Gowanda captures Section VI Class C baseball title
JAMESTOWN — Blake Herman controls pretty much everything that happens defensively for Gowanda’s baseball team.
It’s really not surprising to anyone who has watched the sophomore catcher play.
So when he made a hand motion he calls “the swipe” to his older brother, Cole, who was on the mound in Saturday’s Section VI Class C championship game, that signal meant only one thing — pickoff attempt at second base.
Not surprisingly, Blake Herman’s call was perfect.
Cole Herman whirled around and whipped a throw to shortstop Carter Capozzi, who applied the tag on Portville’s Michael Cole.
Two batters later, Gowanda, which had been clinging to a one-run lead, was out of the top of the fifth inning.
The threat was over.
Minutes later, Alex Pachucinski led off the bottom of the frame with a single, scored on a double by John Ondus and, three batters later, Capozzi singled to score Ondus. Armed with a 5-2 lead, top-seeded Gowanda had seized control against its rival and was on its way to a 7-2 victory at Diethrick Park.
The win advances Gowanda (19-2), into the Far West Regional against either Sodus or Batavia Notre Dame of Section V. That regional will be played at 11 a.m. this Saturday at Frontier High School in Hamburg.
No. 3 Portville, which beat Gowanda in last year’s sectional final, ends its season 12-3.
Cole Herman was the winning pitcher, working five innings, giving up two runs (both unearned) on three hits, striking out five and walking two. Tyler Smith worked the final two innings of shutout relief. Ondus (double, two RBIs), Pachucinski and Tyler Smith (triple) all had two hits for Gowanda.
Nik Manroe drove in both runs for Portville, courtesy of a first-inning single and a third-inning sacrifice fly.
Luke Petryszak, the losing pitcher, went five innings and allowed five runs (three earned) and struck out seven. He didn’t issue a walk, but he did hit a batter. Cole tossed one inning and gave up two runs (both earned), and struck out two.
The game was tied 2-2 after two innings, but Gowanda took the lead for good in the bottom of the third when Tyler Smith led off with a single, went to second on a passed ball, to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Gowanda’s lead remained a run — thanks to the heads-up pickoff — until the bottom of the fifth when Ondus and Capozzi came up big.
Fittingly, when the final out was recorded in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Hermans met in the middle of the infield for a long embrace.
In this instance, a celebratory sign from little brother to big brother wasn’t necessary.
It’s on to the Far West Regional now.
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See complete story in Monday’s OBSERVER