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Marauders ousted

Back-and-forth game goes Alden’s way late in 13-7 defeat

OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz Dunkirk’s Scott Korzenski is tagged out by Alden’s John Watson during Wednesday’s Section VI Class B1 quarterfinal at Al Stuhlmiller Field.

A wonderful season for the Dunkirk baseball team came to an unceremonious end Tuesday afternoon at Al Stuhlmiller Field as the second-seeded Marauders fell to No. 7 Alden 13-7.

“From the get-go we couldn’t get the last out,” Dunkirk head coach Frank Jagoda said. “And we didn’t even get the first out for the first couple innings. We hit early, but we couldn’t get an out in the second and third. We kept playing back and forth and then we had a couple bad plays and a couple of miscues, and that’s been our bugaboo all year.”

Alden got on the board early. After John Watson led off with a single, Connor Streit was hit by pitch with two strikes. Joe Motz drew a two-out walk to load the bases and on another 0-2 pitch, Dominic DePaolis delivered a single into center field to give Alden a 1-0 lead. Marauders pitcher Javy DeJesus escaped the jam with a strikeout to strand three runners.

Dunkirk wasted no time answering. Alex Ahlstrom and Mike Norton both drew walks before Ahlstrom stole third to give the Marauders runners at the corners. On a hit-and-run, Phil Messina drilled a ball through the infield to tie the game. DeJesus then drove in a run with a groundout before Watson induced a popout.

With two outs, Dunkirk kept rolling. Nick Marsowicz dropped a single into center field to score Messina, then Nick Zatorski hit a pop-up into no-man’s land that ended up as an RBI double.

OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz Dunkirk’s Phil Messina tags out Alden’s Joe Motz during Wednesday’s Section VI Class B1 quarterfinal at Al Stuhlmiller Field.

Alden, however, did not lay down. The first two Bulldogs batters worked walks in the top of the second. Watson grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Tony Muscoreil got a run back on an RBI single. After a flyout, Ben Chowaniec hit an RBI single of his own to make it 4-3. After another walk — the third of the inning — DePaolis drove in two more runs to give Alden its lead back. The train would have kept rolling for the Bulldogs, as Cole Shadle singled to continue the inning, but Mike Norton made a bullet throw home to cut down Joe Motz at the plate to keep the game 5-4 and end the top of the second.

“He made a really nice throw home, but we shouldn’t have to make three or four plays at the plate,” Jagoda said. “We should be able to get outs in the infield.”

The run parade continued as Dunkirk took the lead again in the bottom of the inning, with a new pitcher on the mound. Tony Noel came on in relief and walked Scott Korzenski, but picked him off with Ahlstrom at the plate. That was an important out for Alden, as Ahlstrom followed with a blast over the left-field fence to tie the game. Norton then hit a rocket triple with one out, but was thrown out at the plate as Messina grounded to second. DeJesus plated Messina on an RBI single to give Dunkirk the lead heading into the third.

Alden answered with two more in the top of the third to take a 7-6 lead.

“I don’t think we made the proper adjustments to be honest with you,” Jagoda said. “They made plays and we didn’t make plays. They stuck the bat out a lot of times. You have to put the ball in play.”

After a scoreless top of the fourth, DeJesus rewarded himself in the bottom of the fourth, as he drove in the game-tying run off Streit, the new Alden pitcher.

Korzenski came on in relief after back-to-back hits opening the fifth inning and forced Streit to pop out on the first pitch. Chowaniec then hit a grounder to short that resulted in a force at second, but an errant throw allowed Watson to score the go-ahead run. Joe Motz then singled in Chowaniec for a 9-7 lead.

“We wanted to come off the plate more because they liked swinging at the first pitch,” Jagoda said. “Javy would get up 0-2 then throw a couple balls that were up. He kept the ball up more than normal. You get it up, then you have to throw it over.”

After Dunkirk went down in order, Alden struck again in the top of the sixth. Noel reached base on a one-out error, then Aiden Hart followed with a single. A two-out error kept the inning alive, and with the bases loaded, Streit delivered a two-run single to extend the lead to 11-7.

The Bulldogs tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh and finished the game with a double play in the Marauders’ half of the frame.

Watson ended the game 3 for 6 with three runs scored while Muscoreil went 4 for 5 with a run and an RBI. Chowaniec went 2 for 5 with two runs and three RBIs, and DePaolis added three RBIs of his own. Streit’s biggest contributions came on the mound as he shut Dunkirk down with just one run allowed over the final four innings, striking out five Marauders.

Dunkirk finished the season 16-4, and in a year as weird as this one, Jagoda was proud of how his team battled all year.

“We’ve had a really good year,” Jagoda said. “We had to win something to hang our hat on that and be proud of that. These kids worked real hard the entire year, from January on they were in the gym doing things other teams probably weren’t doing at the time.”

“We had six seniors play their tail off this year,” Jagoda continued. “Donovan Lockett, Mike Porpiglia and Nick Marsowicz each had their first year playing on varsity. Phil (Messina) and Mike (Norton) had experience, but they all had a role and contributed to this success. I also want to thank my coaching staff. Without Steve Zatorski and Ryan Corbett being there in the winter, this stuff doesn’t happen. Success doesn’t happen without coaching staffs that put together good coaches. I want to commend everyone.”

Even though the season ended on a sour note, the Dunkirk baseball careers and contributions of Lockett, Porpiglia, Marsowicz, Messina, Norton, and Tanner Schrantz will not be overlooked as the program moves forward into 2022 and beyond.

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