JUMP FOR IT — Tyler Conklin leaps over the competition, in a game against East Aurora. Photo by Coriann Carson.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute varsity baseball team lost back-to-back games, against Cheektowaga, on April 25 and 26. Following the losses, Coach Ron Tamraz held a practice, Saturday morning.
“The practice was beyond necessary, with the way we were playing,” Senior Captain Billy Dickinson said.
The Griffs traveled to undefeated and division-leading Lake Shore High School on April 29, looking to rebound from its recent slide. An RBI single, by Springville’s Kyle Crotty, scored Tyler Conklin. That gave Springville a early 1 – 0 lead, in the top of the second.
After Lake Shore tied the game at 1 – 1, Dickinson hit an RBI single, to score Kyle McCarthy, to give Springville the lead back, at 2 – 1. The score remained that way, until the bottom of the sixth, when Lake Shore scored 3 runs, to take a 3 – 2 lead. With two outs and two strikes, in the top of the seventh, and Drew Scharra at the plate, for the Griffs, Scharra sent a ball to deep right field, but it went foul, by a foot.
The team dropped the close contest 3 – 2. Jon Weronski pitched five innings, allowing three hits.
“Baseball is a game of inches; you’ve got that right,” Tamraz said. “[There were a] couple of plays where we tried to make things happen, and the guy just happened to be moving to the right spot. They took away two hits, by Drew Scharra. Jon pitched a great game; he got a little tired, in the last inning, but he was pitching their big hitter carefully. He didn’t want to let one swing of the bat tie the game up.”
Springville out-hit Lake Shore 10 – 2. Adam Wolfley went 2 – 3, for the Griffins, while Dickinson had two hits and an RBI. Conklin had a single and double, while adding a run scored. Tamraz said that errors have plagued the team, in a few games, this season. Against Lake Shore, the Griffs went errorless.
“A lot of it had to do with Jon’s pace,” Tamraz said, of the team’s fielding. “He didn’t get behind a lot of batters; we’ve been talking about that, all year long. He got ahead, in the count, and had a lot of low count, at bats. That keeps your fielders in the game. It keeps them on their toes. Hopefully, this is something we can build on.”
On April 30, the Griffs took on East Aurora High School, a team that is near the top of its division. The Griffs were clinging to a 2 – 1 lead, but used a 4-run bottom of the fifth, to propel themselves to a 6 – 4 victory, against East Aurora.
“He has done everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Tamraz said, about McCarthy. “Being a sophomore, and being brought up to varsity, I think had something to do with his struggles, in the beginning of the season, being a little nervous, but he’s settled in. Being behind the plate has really helped him, because that’s his favorite position, at this point. His eye at the plate has been super. He draws walks, he can bunt, has a few sac bunts, this year, and that double was huge, to add those two runs; especially with two outs.”
Crotty pitched five innings, not allowing an earned run and striking out six Blue Devils. Crotty left the game, in the top of the sixth, because of numbness in his throwing arm. Will Lawton replaced him and allowed 1 run, to get the save.
“That was just super,” Tamraz said, of Lawton stepping in. “We got some hits, from the bottom of the order, again. Will came in and he had a tough seventh inning, but we made a couple of plays that didn’t help. He threw strikes and put the ball in play. But that was huge, for him to come in, without really expecting to.”
The Griffs continued their hot hitting, the following day, against Depew. On May 1, Springville took on the Depew Wildcats, in a rematch of an earlier game that the Griffs won 5 – 4, on a walk-off. Conklin was on the mound, for the Griffins, pitching six innings, to get the win, in a 16 – 10 victory. The Griffins trailed 4 – 1, until the top of the fourth, when Springville scored 7 runs, to break the game open. Dickinson hit a 2-run double, in the inning. Dickinson finished the game, with two singles and a double, while driving in a season-high 4 runs. This week, he has been hitting in the two-spot in the order, with Wolfley taking leadoff duties.
“Coach Ayler tweaked my swing a little bit, the other day,” Dickinson said. “It was nice, that I was actually able to see the ball better, today. I felt like I had a better swing, on the ball. I was able to turn on a couple balls and drive some. It was nice to drive in some runs, from the two-hole, after hitting in the one-spot, for most of the season.”
Scharra leads the team in on-base percentage. He added two singles and 3 runs. The three-year starter is near the top, in all of Springville’s major offensive categories.
“That’s exactly why we have him there [hitting in the three-spot],” Tamraz said. “As long as we have guys setting the table, but even if we don’t; he has got on base. In high school baseball, when you’re talking about a typical, three-hitter, you’re talking about a guy who’s going to hit the ball, more often than not. You’re talking about a guy who can get on base and be able to hit the ball in gaps, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing.