Thunderbirds shock No. 1 Holland, 2-0

OLEAN — With mother nature having an impact on the game, Chautauqua Lake took advantage of being able to play a neutral game at St. Bonaventure University on Tuesday night for its Class C quarterfinal game. With a great pitchers’ duel on both sides, the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds beat top-seeded Holland Dutchmen 2-0 in a game that lasted only 70 minutes long. Both pitchers were highly effective, throwing around 80 pitches each in seven innings of work.

“This was a big win for our program,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Bryan Bongiovanni stated. “It was great to gain experience in pressure situations, but also to come out victorious. Part of the battle is believing that you can do it. Wins like these create that mindset and every player contributed in some fashion today.”

After a quick first inning that saw both teams get three quick outs, Chautauqua Lake took advantage to get a run in the second inning. Nate Engdahl led off the inning with a triple to deep left field. After Luke Waters was hit by a pitch, Tate Olson came through with an RBI. Olson hit the ball to second base and as the second basemen tried to throw the ball quickly to the shortstop in an attempt to get a double play, the ball sailed into left field. With runners on the corners and one out, the Thunderbirds could not get the second run through that inning.

“Manufacturing that first run in the second inning was huge, especially with Kyler on the mound,” Bongiovanni stated. “Nate Engdahl hit a huge triple on a curveball and then Tate Olson had a great situational at bat.”

The Dutchmen had singles in both the third and fourth innings, but Chautauqua Lake played solid defense to erase those runners. In the third, pitcher Kyler Majka had a great pickoff move with a well=executed rundown to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Chautauqua Lake shortstop Zach Fischer did a great job retrieving the ball to throw out the lead runner at second base. Later in the inning, second basemen Luke Waters made a leaping catch running out of the infield to end the inning.

The Thunderbirds added a huge insurance run in the fifth inning. Noah Webb started the rally with a single that hit the foul line in right field. On a pickoff attempt, Webb drew the throw to first, but Webb was quick enough to beat the throw to second base. Zach Martin followed with a sacrifice bunt to move the runner up 90 feet. With two outs, Majka hit a hard groundball that was misplayed by the Dutchmen shortstop, allowing Webb to score on the play. That was the last baserunner that the Thunderbirds would have.

“Noah Webb sparked our offense with a hit and smart baserunning,” Bongiovanni added. “Zach had a great at bat to advance the runner and again, Majka came through with a crucial situational at bat as he usually does.”

After a solid fielding inning in the sixth against the top of the order for the Dutchmen, Holland put together a threat in the seventh inning. After leadoff batter Tyler Scheffler reached on an error, Majka was able to record two quick strikeouts. Jonathan Staniszewski followed with a single to put the tying run on base. Eight hitter Joe Machol fouled off five consecutive pitches to stay alive, but Majka finally threw the knockout punch to secure the victory for Chautauqua Lake.

According to Bongiovanni, “The game came down to us making a few small plays and Holland making a few mistakes. At this time of year, it is often the difference.”

Makja pitched the complete game shutout, surrendering only five hits without a walk while fanning 11.

“Kyler was phenomenal today as he is an example of what hard work can do for you,” Bongiovanni added. “There is no fazing him. When you have a talent and leadership on the mound, it is definitely an advantage for us. To see his maturation over the past four years has been special. Eventually I won’t get to coach him anymore, but that wasn’t the case today.”

Holland pitcher Nolan Perry was equally as effective, giving up two runs, from two hits and a walk while striking out six.

The Thunderbirds put together timely hitting as the only two players to get a hit, both scored as well.

“Holland has a great team,” Bongiovanni added. “This was a well played game by both teams. We were able to do enough with the bats early against a talented pitcher.”

The Thunderbirds face a familiar opponent, Falconer, on Thursday in a Class C semifinal game.