Silver Creek falls in extra innings, 3-2 at Frewsburg

Photo by Valory Isaacson Silver Creek pitcher Spencer Harford delivers a pitch during Tuesday’s Class C sectional playoff game against the Frewsburg Bears, in Frewsburg.

FREWSBURG — Never has Nick Marsh been hit by a projectile flying at upwards of 80 mph and had it feel so good.

The Frewsburg senior was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to force in the winning run of the third-seeded Bears’ come-from-behind 3-2 Section VI Class C quarterfinal victory over No. 6 Silver Creek on Tuesday at the Robert H. Jackson Athletic Complex.

“It just feels great getting another chance to go out on the field,” Marsh said. “We’re moving on, so it feels good.”

Kaleb Bender started the game-winning rally with a one-out bloop single over the pitcher’s mound and Caleb Carr reached on an error before Jack Yost moved both runners up with a groundout.

No. 3 hitter Aaron Hair was then intentionally walked setting the stage for Marsh. After a first-pitch ball, the Bears’ catcher took the second pitch he saw from Black Knights reliever Jeremy Wilcox off the left elbow to plate Bender from third and chase Grann down the third-base line, jumping in celebration.

“Nick had a little dry spell. The last few weeks he’s been tremendous,” Grann said. “He doesn’t want this season to end. He’s playing with a ton of emotion and a ton of leadership.”

Frewsburg will now travel to Bemus Point to take on No. 2 Maple Grove in the semifinals Thursday after the Red Dragons beat No. 7 Portville, 3-0, on Tuesday.

“I like our pitching depth,” Grann said. “We still have three or four guys we can go to. We may use them all.”

In the eighth inning, Silver Creek was one strike away from the win. Chris VanCheri led off the eighth inning with a single and went to second on an error. With two on and no outs, Wilcox flew out to center field and Spencer Harford struck out swinging. Hair then walked Travis Drozdziel and Ethan Brunner, the second one coming on his 129th pitch, forcing in VanCheri with the go-ahead run and ending the Frewsburg ace’s afternoon.

Ryan Schrecengost relieved and struck out Don Gula to keep it a one-run game.

“He is consistent and he cleans up pretty well,” Marsh said of Schrecengost. “He tricks a lot of people with his curveballs. He comes in and does his job.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Yost singled through the left side and Marsh hit a one-out blooper that fell in front of the Black Knights third baseman for a hit.

After an infield fly, Traden Gray worked the count to 2-2 against Wilcox. After a pitch just missed up in the zone, Gray sent a dribbler through the middle of the Silver Creek defense that plated Yost with the tying run.

“Traden, truth be told, it looked ugly,” Grann said. “He fought there. He got a pitch he could handle, put it back up the middle for a seeing-eye single and kept us in the game.”

Lucas Zbytek led off the top of the ninth with a single to left field, but Marsh made an aggressive play on the ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt by Andre Rosario, throwing out Zbytek by a step at second base.

“Truthfully, we’ve had similar situations where Nick’s thrown that ball away,” Grann said. ” … We’ve put some time in with him, talking about situations just like that. His hard work paid off.”

Schrecengost then got out of the inning to set up the final at-bat drama.

“It seemed as if we had several situations that things just didn’t fall for us both offensively and defensively,” Silver Creek coach Janisch said. “Give it to Frewsburg, they put us in those situations.”

The first seven innings flew by with Hair and Harford dueling each other pitch for pitch.

The game changed on a hit by pitch in the top of the sixth inning. VanCheri reached on an error and Nik Dawley singled to open the frame for the Black Knights. Hair then threw out VanCheri at the plate on an attempted suicide squeeze, but hit Harford on the hand with a 3-2 pitch during the ensuing at-bat. Drozdziel was then also hit by a pitch, forcing in the first run of the game.

“It’s a tough game. We knew it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out because both teams on paper were pretty much identical,” Janisch said. “We knew both pitchers were going to do a tremendous job.”

Clearly affected by the errant pitch, Harford gave up his first run in the bottom of the sixth. Hair reached on a one-out error and went to second on the play before Marsh hit an RBI single to center field to tie the game. Harford struck out the final two batters of the frame, but did not return to the mound to start the seventh inning after 93 pitches on the afternoon.

“It hurt losing Spencer there because he had another inning or two where he would’ve been effective,” Janisch said. “My pitching coach saw it. He said that he wasn’t getting break on (his curveball). He threw for one inning and then it swelled up.”

The Bears took advantage, reaching Wilcox for two runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter to send themselves into Thursday’s semifinal.

“Thursday is going to be about surviving and hopefully hitting the ball a little bit better,” Grann said. “Our offense can come through and maybe carry us. We’ll see what happens.”

NOTES: Marsh had two hits and two RBIs while Bender also had two hits for Frewsburg. … Hair allowed two unearned runs on four hits while striking out nine, walking three and hitting two batters. … VanCheri had two hits for Silver Creek. … Harford allowed one unearned run on three hits while striking out nine and walking two.