Rough start dooms Dunkirk in Class A2 title defeat

Dunkirk’s Paul Trippy III leads off second base in the fifth inning of the Section VI, Class A2 Championship baseball game, against Maryvale, at Niagara Falls High School on Saturday. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

NIAGARA FALLS — When it rains, it pours. Both figuratively and literally, the Dunkirk Marauders found that out all too well on Saturday.

Dunkirk could not stem the tide as the opposing Maryvale Flyers pushed six runs across the plate in the first inning in the Section VI, Class A2 Championship baseball game at Niagara Falls High School on Saturday. By the time the result was final, with an interruption of nearly three hours from Mother Nature, the Maryvale Flyers were Sectional Champions with a 9-4 victory.

“We just had a bad first inning,” Dunkirk head coach Frank Jagoda said. “… We’ve played a total of eight or nine bad innings all year, and we have nine losses. Every time we have a bad one, we have a hard time recovering.”

After two first inning walks for Dunkirk (14-9, 7-seed) were left stranded on the bases in the top half of the inning, Maryvale (17-6, 4-seed) just kept grinding out runs in the bottom half. A leadoff single followed by two of the next three Flyers being hit by pitches loaded the bases with one out. A grounder to third with the infield in led to a play at the plate, but Greg Orcutt’s throw skipped off the catcher’s mitt of Donny Jackson allowing the first run to score.

A walk forced in the second run of the game, then a wild pitch led to the third run. A groundout to Paul Trippy III at second base brought in the fourth run, as Trippy took the sure out rather than forcing another play at the plate.

Dunkirk Marauders pitcher Zach Zentz delivers a pitch in the Section VI, Class A2 Championship baseball game against the Maryvale Flyers at Niagara Falls High School on Saturday. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

Then, finally, a big hit with two outs from the ninth batter in the lineup drove in a pair to cap off a six-run first inning for the Flyers. In all, Dunkirk pitcher Zach Zentz threw 31 pitches in the first inning. He allowed two hits, two walks, and two hit batters in the frame.

Maryvale tacked on a run in the second inning after a one-out triple to the right-center field gap by Isaiah Hill, then a squeeze bunt from the next batter to score him. From there, Zentz kept the Flyers at bay. Two groundouts to the left side of the infield and two strikeouts retired the next four batters quietly.

Dunkirk had two batters reach base in each of the first three innings on free passes, but none of them came around to score. Orcutt, the sixth walk of the first 13 Dunkirk batters, was picked off to end the third inning.

Maryvale looked poised to add on in the fourth inning after a pair of hits including a ground-rule double and an intentional walk loaded the bases with only one out. Instead, Zentz struck out the next two batters to leave the bases loaded.

Speaking of runners left on base, the Marauders had plenty in the early stages of Saturday’s game. Through the top of the fifth inning, Dunkirk managed eight base runners, but just one hit. Jon Ganey’s hard-hit grounder up the middle with two outs in the top of the fourth inning was the only offense for the Marauders through five frames, aside from seven free passes.

Dunkirk left Trippy stranded at third base in the fifth inning despite a leadoff walk and a passed ball to advance him to second base before an out was made.

“We just didn’t hit the ball. We had one hit after five (innings),” Jagoda said. “You can’t win a ballgame like that.”

Zentz struck out the first batter of the bottom of the fifth inning before allowing a double down the left field line. At that point, the umpires converged near the pitcher’s mound and sent the game into a weather delay with lightning on the horizon. Within minutes, a downpour ensued without interruption for well over an hour. The rain delay began shortly before 11:50 a.m., and the game did not resume until 2:20 p.m., after a delay of over two hours.

Once play finally resumed, Anthony Cosme relieved Zentz on the hill. The inherited runner came in to score on a double to center field for an 8-0 Maryvale lead after five innings.

After only one hit through five innings, the Marauders bats woke up after the long delay. Maryvale sent pitcher James Rindfleisch back out to pitch the sixth inning, and the Marauders capitalized with a leadoff walk, then a deep drive to center field by Dylan Bankoski for an RBI triple. Dunkirk added two more in the inning, including an RBI single by Jackson, who later scored on a passed ball. His run put Dunkirk to within five, 8-3, with an inning left.

“After the rain delay, quite honestly, there’s no pressure when you’re down 7-0. You can play a little loose when the pressure is all on the other team,” Jagoda said.

Maryvale added another insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning, on its second successful squeeze bunt of the day. The Marauders needed six runs in the seventh inning to stay alive, but only mustered one. Orcutt blasted a drive off the fence in right field and scored on a wild pitch, but the game came to a close shortly after that on a strikeout by Jackson, who slammed his helmet and bat into the ground in frustration.

Saturday’s loss marked the final game for four members of the Marauders – Zentz, Jackson, Ganey, and reserve Nate Garcia, a college football commit at Alfred State who Jagoda credited as “an outstanding kid” who acted like a coach on the bench. All four players took home a red patch as a Section VI runner-up.

Jagoda credited Zentz and Jackson for sticking with the program after not playing much as sophomores. Over the past two years, the two have become leaders in the program.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without either one of them,” Jagoda said.

Jagoda also credited Ganey for his strength through adversity in recent years. Ganey lost his father in June of 2022. “You can’t say enough about how he really came through for us,” Jagoda said.

Maryvale now advances to the Class A Crossover game later this upcoming week. For Dunkirk, seven of the nine players to start the game in the field on Saturday will return next year, missing only the battery of Zentz and Jackson.

“Overall, over the last couple of weeks, everybody was getting behind us again,” Jagoda said. “It would be nice to get over the hump. We’ve got a lot of kids coming back, and hopefully they work just as hard as they did this year. We’ll have something to prove again next year.”


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