Billies take next step
Fredonia wins with pitching, defense
EDITOR’S NOTE: In another edition of the “Remember When” series, the 2013 state champion Fredonia baseball team is featured. Throughout this week, the OBSERVER will be running the Hillbillies’ final four playoff victories, including its state title contest. Today, we continue with the Class B Far West Regional game.
Last year, Fredonia saw its baseball season come to an end at the hands of Section V’s Wayland-Cohocton Eagles in the Class B Far West Regional on a fielding error as the Hillbillies lost 8-7.
This year, in the second chapter of this story, it was the Hillbillies’ defense and pitching that led the Section VI champs to a 2-0 victory over that same Eagles team on Tuesday to advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals.
“Trent (Thompson) pitched out of this world,” Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. “Our defense was outstanding. They made all of the plays behind him. Wayland-Cohocton has a class act as their coach in Steve (Wagner). It was great to see his team get back to this game and it was better for us this time around.”
This will be Fredonia’s first trip to the semifinals since the 2009 season when it lost to Westhill.
Early on, it appeared as if it may be a lopsided affair as Thompson sat Wayland-Cohocton’s first three batters down in order. Then, in the bottom half of the first, Nick Hart led off for Fredonia with a single and followed that up with a stolen base.
Zach Buckley was hit by a pitch to give the Hillbillies runners on first and second base, before Fredonia’s cleanup hitter, Weston Ley, grounded to the Eagles shortstop, who tossed the ball to second base to force out Buckley. Wayland-Cohocton continued the play trying to throw Ley out at first for a double play, but an errant throw allowed Hart to round third base and come home for the game’s first run.
In the top of the second, the Eagles got a base hit with two outs, but could not convert, as that hit was just one of three that Thompson allowed in a complete-game shutout.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Gullo said of his tough decision on whether to start Thompson or Cam Voss. “You have one guy who goes out there and pitches phenomenal, but then you have another guy just as good. That’s not even mentioning Weston Ley in that group.”
Along with allowing just three hits, Thompson struck out seven and allowed just one walk.
“He attacked the strike zone,” Gullo said of Thompson. “The coaching staff put together a good game plan with Zach Buckley calling the game. That really helped since we were struggling hitting the ball, but that doesn’t really matter because we are going back to states.”
After the one run in the first inning there were zeros across the board until the Hillbillies scored again in the sixth inning.
With one out, Ley reached base on an error and then stole second base. In the process of stealing second base, the throw ricocheted towards first base allowing Ley to move up to third.
The Eagles opted to move their defense in to try to cut down Ley at the plate. However, Voss slapped a single between the first and second basemen to score the second, and final, run of the game.
Tyler Brown took the loss for Wayland-Cohocton as he went the distance. Like Thompson, Brown allowed just three hits, but walked one and hit two batters.
“We tried moving up in the box and laying off his slider,” Gullo said of his team’s efforts to hit Brown. “He pitched a great game and kept us on our heels.”
In the top of the seventh, Wayland-Cohocton’s Mike Murphy led off with a single, but from there, Thompson shut the Eagles down, and in fitting fashion, the senior struck out the final batter to put the exclamation mark on the most impressive, and most important outing of his varsity career.
Fredonia’s next game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sylvester Field in Binghamton against Section X’s Ogdensburg.