Hillbillies leave no doubt

Fredonia beats Falconer, 12-6, to earn undisputed CCAA Div. 1 West title

Photo by Alex Shipherd Fredonia’s Alex Rush throws to first base during Saturday’s game.

FALCONER — The athletic complex behind Falconer Central School has been under construction this spring, a project that, when completed, will be a welcome new home for the football, soccer and track & field teams.

On Saturday morning — on the adjacent baseball field named after former Golden Falcons’ coach Denny Meszaros — a season-long building effort of a different sort reached another milestone.

This one, though, belonged to the team wearing the black jerseys.

Yes, Fredonia knows a thing or two about program milestones.

Behind a three-run first inning, a four-run fourth and a gutty pitching performance by Anthony Gullo, the Hillbillies downed Falconer, 12-6, to clinch the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 West title.

Photo by Alex Shipherd Fredonia’s Trey Swartz (right) receives a throw at first base, as Falconer’s Nate Abbey ducks out of the way of the throw.

For those area baseball history buffs, the crown was Fredonia’s fourth in a row and eighth in the last nine years, a track record that puts the program among the best in Section VI.

After losing a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to rival Dunkirk in eight innings Friday evening, the Hillbillies (13-4, 10-1) shrugged off any residual effect by getting on the board in their very first at-bat.

Highlighting the top of the first inning against Falconer starter Matt Gullotti were an RBI single by Trey Swartz, a fielder’s choice RBI by Troy Lanski and a sacrifice fly by William Schmitt.

“To bounce back after yesterday’s emotional game, that’s really impressive for our young team,” Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. “We start one or two seniors a game and the seniors that are on the bench give us … great leadership. For our young guys to come through — Falconer’s a strong team, we faced some really good pitching, it’s an early morning game and we have Dunkirk (today) — it’s just nice to take care of our business today. We grew up a lot.”

The Golden Falcons (12-4, 8-4) did answer with a run off starter and eventual winning pitcher Anthony Gullo in the bottom of the first, courtesy of Bobby Samuelson’s sacrifice fly, but the Hillbillies broke open the game in the fourth when they scored four runs — aided by three Falconer errors — to extend their lead to 7-1. The big hit in that rally was Lanski’s two-run single.

Photo by Alex Shipherd Fredonia’s Alec Schrader runs the bases on Saturday, in Falconer.

“It’s nice to put pressure on the other team, and we moved runners around and capitalized on a mistake or two,” Vince Gullo said. “It was also nice to get a clutch hit or two.”

A three-run fifth inning, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Evan Pirtz and a two-run single by Anthony Gullo, expanded Fredonia’s margin to 10-1, which was more than enough cushion.

“(Anthony Gullo) kept (Falconer) off balance,” Vince Gullo said of his son. “They started adjusting later in the game, but he got through the first two at-bats of everybody pretty clean.”

Falconer’s bats did come alive in the fifth and sixth when they scored five times, thanks to a two-run single by Ben Schrader, and RBI doubles by Gullotti and Jimmy Kramer.

But the hosts were unable to climb all the way back against Anthony Gullo, who had command of his off-speed pitches for most of the game.

“He wasn’t overwhelming at all, but he pitched to contact, which is the key, and their fielders made the plays,” Falconer coach Chris Schrader said. “Like Fredonia always does, they did the things to win.”

Added Vince Gullo: “We were in control all game. Anthony did a really nice job. We needed that today. We have a little bit of pitching for tomorrow. We just played three straight days, so this is a tough stretch for us. … We’re a little tired, but it’s fun. They’re excited.”

NOTES: Leading the Hillbillies’ offensive attack were Alec Schrader (double, RBI, three runs scored) with three hits; Anthony Gullo with two; and Swartz (RBI) and Lanski (three RBIs) with a double apiece. … Jacob Payne collected three hits, including a double, to lead Falconer. Schrader (two RBIs) and Nate Abbey added two hits, and Gullotti (RBI), Ryan Stimson and Kramer (RBI) all had a double. … Fredonia’s game today at Dunkirk starts at 1 p.m. … Falconer has one game remaining in the regular season when it takes on Portville on Wednesday at St. Bonaventure University.

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