Silver Creek wins, 13-1, on Senior Night vs. North Collins

OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms The Silver Creek/Forestville Black Knights seniors and their families celebrate a victory on Senior Night against North Collins. Pictured from left in uniform: Jack Brennan with his parents Greg and Kim, Travis Drozdziel (of Forestville) and his parents Amy and Chris, and Nik Dawley and his parents Michelle and Dwayne.

SILVER CREEK — The Silver Creek Black Knights had a lot to play for on Thursday evening when they hosted the North Collins Eagles in a non-league baseball game at Silver Creek High School, as it was Senior Night for the Black Knights. The game was very tightly contested until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Silver Creek exploded offensively, scoring 11 runs before North Collins was able to record an out — propelling the hosts to a 13-1 victory.

Jeremy Wilcox got the start on the mound for the Black Knights (7-8, 5-6) and nearly ran into trouble in the first inning. Wilcox loaded up the bases with only one out after walking the third and fourth batters. Silver Creek was bailed out of first inning trouble when senior second baseman Nik Dawley snagged a line drive out of thin air and then doubled up Tony Puckhaber who took too big of a lead off second base.

“All three of our seniors are kids we are going to miss a lot,” said Silver Creek head coach Mike Janisch. “Defensively, Nik Dawley had that beautiful double play. They didn’t hit it to Jack (Brennan) today or Travis (Drozdziel), but they certainly covered their ground.”

“We’re looking to put bat on ball,” said North Collins head coach Scott Gill. “We’re looking to be aggressive — first pitch swinging. We left a lot of runners on this season, it’s day to day and we’ll have our day.”

Silver Creek responded to the North Collins (3-12, 2-6) threat with some offense of their own, getting a big lead off double from Chris VanCheri to start the bottom of the first. VanCheri was moved to third on a sac bunt from Wilcox, then scored off a single from Spencer Harford.

After the tough first inning, Wilcox came out with a strong second inning — striking out the side and getting each batter to go down watching.

“Jeremy Wilcox came out and we tried to work on some offspeed pitches and get him mixing speeds a little bit, and he did a better job of it today,” said Coach Janisch. “He got behind on a couple of batters and that’s what hurt him — he ran up the pitch count quite a bit, but he was much more in command of what was happening at the plate.”

Tyler Mathis was on the hill for North Collins, after giving up the first run to the top of the Silver Creek batting order, Mathis took care of business throwing two scoreless innings — keeping the deficit at 1-0 in favor of the Black Knights.

“First four innings we kept it tight,” said Coach Gill. “Defensively we made some good plays, we picked up our pitchers. We hit the ball hard, I think we found some holes today.

Mathis was subbed out for Christian Loretto in the fourth inning, after allowing one earned run on four hits, and striking out four over three innings pitched.

In the fourth inning, Silver Creek looked to extend their lead after not being able to get multiple baserunners since the first inning. Ethan Brunner led off the inning with a hard hit ball to third, causing an error by the third baseman and allowing him to reach second base. Loretto struggled to find the strike zone on the mound for North Collins and walked the next three batters — scoring the second run for the Black Knights and giving them a 2-0 lead. After a mound visit the Eagles managed to get out of the inning with a pop out, then followed it up with a double play.

North Collins battled back in the fifth inning, getting their lone run to make it a 2-1 Silver Creek lead. The Eagles were unable to tie the game and 2-1 was as close as it would get.

“Defensively, Chris VanCheri is just outstanding as a catcher,” He does so many good things for us, people don’t notice what he does. Our defense has been one of the hallmarks of our team all year. We stress quite a bit of defense. If you don’t give up runs, you don’t have to score as many either and we have played some pretty good defense recently.”

In the bottom of the fifth, Silver Creek saw their third pitcher of the game, Josh Rice. Rice struggled early as Wilcox was walked then advanced to second on a wild pitch, which was followed up by a huge RBI double from Spencer Harford — his second of the game that gave Silver Creek a 3-1 lead. Silver Creek exploded offensively in the fifth inning — scoring 11 runs. Don Gula and Lucas Zbytek added RBI walks and both Wilcox and Harford scored twice in the inning.

“We kind of ran out of pitching,” said Coach Gill. “This is a prep game for Monday, we have a big one against Ellicottville, but I think we’ll be ok. We’ve got a big one Monday, we want our two best pitchers ready for Monday and that was the thought process.”

The Eagles did not give up and their third pitcher of the inning managed to get out of the frame. North Collins elected to play the top of the sixth, but were tasked in hitting against Harford. Harford pitched a perfect inning, striking out two batters swinging — leading to a mercy rule victory after the top of the sixth, 13-1, in favor of Silver Creek.

“Thanks to the parents and our supporters and everything they do,” said Coach Janisch. “If we don’t have it, it’s not as nice a deal.”

The Black Knights are back in action today when they take on Chautauqua Lake in a resumed contest that was forced into a rainout. North Collins will look to get back in the win column on Monday against Ellicottville.