Lady Marauders move on

Dunkirk tops East Aurora in first round of playoffs

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Dunkirk’s Olivia Yerico-Piazza (19) crosses home plate, surrounded by her Lady Marauder teammates, after hitting a home run during Dunkirk’s 14-8 win over East Aurora in the first round of the Section VI, Class B1 softball playoffs, Tuesday, at Dunkirk High School.

The seventh-seeded Dunkirk Lady Marauders took full advantage of hosting a pre-quarterfinal game on Tuesday night, as the Lady Marauders survived a late East Aurora rally to defeat the Blue Devils, 14-8, at Dunkirk High School in the Section VI, Class B1 softball playoffs.

After spotting East Aurora, the 10-seed, a run in the first due to an error, the Lady Marauders responded with three of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Olivia Yerico-Piazza started the rally with a single and eventually made her way around the bases as a result of three wild pitches. Monica Pokoj and Emma Newton both reached base from free passes. With runners on the corners and two outs, Ashley Gotowka struck out, but was alert enough to run to first as the catcher dropped the ball. As Pokoj scored, Newton ran to second, where a wild throw by the catcher allowed two runners to score, where the strikeout should have ended the inning.

“We did a great job advancing on the bases when we had the opportunity,” said Dunkirk JV coach Sal Flores — the acting coach on Tuesday with varsity head coach Michelle Gilmour out of town. “The girls recognized times that they could run and did so with a great success rate.”

Dunkirk continued its momentum in the second inning with seven runs scored. After Jessica Beehler singled, Kymi Nance recorded an RBI double that hit the fence. Yerico-Piazza followed with the blast of the game, a two run home run that cleared the fence in center field. Of the next four batters, three reached from an error, where the only hit during that time was a two run double from Newton. Later in the inning, Courtney Zatorski contributed with a two run single.

“Early on, we took advantage of the bunt since East Aurora played back and gave us room,” Flores added. “We put the small ball together with some great timely hits and had a great offensive performance.”

The Blue Devils kept battling hard the entire game and put together three singles in the third inning to score two runs. However, the Marauders were able to get those two runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Nance started off with a single and stole second base. Yerico-Piazza followed with an RBI single, where she would show her aggressiveness on the bases to score on a wild pitch later that inning.

Dunkirk gave East Aurora a few more chances in the fifth inning by recording five errors and the Blue Devils took advantage to get back into the game. Leadoff batter Madison Dzinko started off with a double. Hill followed with an RBI single, which was her third hit of the game. After a walk and an error, Peyton Bentley came through with a two run double.

Two more girls were able to score as a result to errant throws, bringing both base runners home.

“We had a terrible inning where we gave them more outs and made a few bad decisions,” Flores stated. “We had a difficult time getting out of that inning, but the girls were able to regroup and settle down to finish the game strong. They did a good job of digging out of the hole that they put themselves in.”

Despite struggling in the fifth inning, Dunkirk was able to pull together to finish the game strong. After getting three quick outs in the top half of the sixth, Dunkirk added two insurance runs in the bottom half, highlighted by Newton’s RBI triple.

Pokoj ended any threat with a quick seventh inning to secure Dunkirk’s playoff victory. Pokoj pitched the complete game, surrendering eight runs (four earned) from nine hits and three walks while fanning 12.

The Marauders offense recorded 11 hits and three walks. Yerico-Piazza went 4-for-4 including a home run and a double. Newton had two extra base hits with a triple and double. Nance also had a multiple hit game including a double.

According to Flores, “Yerico-Piazza does a great job at the plate and hits the ball well. This was her third home run of the season. She is a great senior leader.”

Dunkirk advances to play in Alden on Thursday in a quarterfinal game where Michelle Gilmour will be back to coach the Marauders.

“It was a fun game today,” Flores added. “I have coached a lot of the girls in the past so it was great to see how they matured and improved through the years.”

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