Hillbillies get even
Fredonia defeats Dunkirk, 8-4, to split season series
Friday night at Chestnut Street Field in Fredonia, the Dunkirk Marauders beat the Fredonia Hillbillies in an epic game that will be remembered for years as the game that ended a 13-game Fredonia win streak in the century-long rivalry.
Sunday afternoon, Fredonia made sure to keep Dunkirk from starting a streak of its own.
The Fredonia Hillbillies defeated the Dunkirk Marauders, 8-4, in a CCAA Division 1 West rivalry baseball contest, Sunday, at Dunkirk High School.
Fredonia (13-5, 11-1) went down quietly in the first inning, but Dunkirk (10-7, 7-4) didn’t go down as easily in the bottom half of the frame. The Marauders loaded the bases against Fredonia pitcher Nick Whitfield, but the Fredonia freshman was able to escape danger by striking out Lucas Porpiglia to leave the bags full. Both sides went down in order in the second inning.
The Hillbillies struck first, with an RBI single by Trey Swartz on a line drive to center field to score Gabe Schrader from second base. Fredonia held a 1-0 lead after the top of the third inning, then set down the Marauders in the bottom half of the inning.
“Trey battled back. He had a great day (Saturday) in Falconer and we saw him continue it today,” said Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo on Sunday. “The last three at-bats (on Sunday), he did what we expect of him. He’s the leader of this team. How Trey goes, we go — and he understands that. He’s doing a great job leading us.”
After a scoreless fourth inning for both sides, Fredonia loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning for Swartz with no outs in the inning. Fredonia’s senior leader hit a ball deep to center field for a sacrifice fly to score Fredonia’s second run of the contest. In the next at-bat, Evan Pirtz added on to the Fredonia lead with a ground ball through the right side to score the second run of the inning for the Hillbillies. Fredonia led 3-0 after the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the game completely flipped. Just as the Hillbillies did in the top half of the inning, the Marauders loaded the bases with no outs. Whitfield was pulled after a walk to Alex Ahlstrom loaded the bases for Mike Norton’s RBI single that put the Marauders on the board. A.J St. George came into the game with no outs in the inning, needing to escape further damage.
“That’s a lot of pressure to put on him,” said Coach Gullo of St. George. “He got us out of the inning and we were hanging in there.”
Dunkirk’s Alex Ahlstrom was called out on the basepaths for the first out of the inning after runner’s interference with Fredonia shortstop Gabe Schrader that sent both players to the ground. Jared Glowniak was forced to return to third base, but he scored shortly after to make the score 3-2. Dunkirk scored its third run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Nick Zatorski to score Norton.
With the game tied at 3-3, Dunkirk attempted a stolen base by Porpiglia, who was on first base, with Peyton Ahlstrom on third. The throw went to second base, but Peyton Ahlstrom was far enough off third base that Fredonia tried to catch him off the bag. The throw to third base went past Whitfield — Fredonia’s third baseman at the time of the play — and to the fence. Peyton Ahlstrom came in to score the go-ahead run for the Marauders.
“We effectively put the ball in play,” said Dunkirk head coach Frank Jagoda. “We made them make plays and like any high school team, they’re going to make mistakes if you do that.”
After the fifth inning, Dunkirk held a 4-3 advantage, just two innings away from a second win over Fredonia in three days.
“It’s resiliency. I know we can do it, we obviously have the talent to do it,” said Jagoda. “We just need to be more consistent. … I’m very happy with how we came back. It got hot again, things got heated. … It was an exciting game.”
Fredonia, however, wouldn’t trail for long. The Hillbillies scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to chase Glowniak and reclaim the lead.
“Just like they did, we gave it right back to them with our mistakes. The last three innings were played with a lot of mistakes made by both teams. We seemed to make more than they did in the end,” said Jagoda. “If you can’t control the little things, just the little things, that’s the difference between winning and losing.”
Fredonia added two more runs in the seventh inning to extend the lead to 8-4. After St. George allowed just one run charged to him in the bottom of the fifth inning, he finished off Dunkirk with shutout innings in the sixth and seventh to earn the win.
“We had confidence in A.J. and he did a phenomenal job,” said Coach Gullo. “He’s been waiting all year and every time we give him a chance, he comes through.”
While Dunkirk struggled with what Jagoda called “the little things,” Fredonia played a clean game after allowing Peyton Ahlstrom’s go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning to score.
“We play good defense when we keep our heads in it. Sometimes the moment gets a little too big and we make a mistake because we’re such a young team, but we’re pretty good at fielding, we’re pretty good at catching and the guys stick together,” said Coach Gullo. “They had A.J.’s back and A.J. was pumping strikes. It was a great defensive game.”
Glowniak earned the loss after allowing six runs to Fredonia, despite facing the undisputed CCAA Division 1 West champs with multiple miscues behind him and on his side offensively.
“Jared (Glowniak) pitched a great game for us,” said Jagoda. “We disagreed on one pitch early, when they scored their first run, but he threw well. He threw well enough to win. … It just didn’t happen.”
Dunkirk’s Jagoda believes the little things — like many of those mistakes in the field and on the basepaths — are the difference between Dunkirk and Fredonia this season.
“The little things are the biggest difference in their (Fredonia’s) season and their record compared to our season and our record,” said Jagoda. “They’ve won their games by doing the little things — and we’ve always been known for doing the little things, and we need to work on it to make sure it gets done.”
The Fredonia Hillbillies finished off a stretch of four league games in four days with Sunday’s win at Dunkirk. Now Fredonia rests up in preparation of a sectional playoff game, likely at home on Thursday. The playoff seedlings will be revealed on Wednesday.
“They’re exhausted, they’re playing on fumes,” said Coach Gullo. “They’re all having fun, but they’re a tired group of kids. … The kids are all saying this is the most fun they’ve ever had. They’re having a good time and they’re sticking together, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Dunkirk hosts Chautauqua Lake tonight, for Senior Night, in the regular season finale in league play for the Marauders.
NOTES: Fredonia’s Swartz finished with three RBI on the day to lead both teams. … Gabe Schrader had two hits for Fredonia out of the No. 9 spot in the order, as did Dom Gullo in the No. 6 spot. … Pirtz and Will Schmitt had RBI for the Hillbillies. … Porpiglia and Glowniak, the two Dunkirk pitchers on the day, each had two hits on the day. Porpiglia had an RBI, while Glowniak had a double. … Zatorski and Norton each had RBI for Dunkirk