WEST VALLEY — No one has been able to defeat the West Valley Central School baseball squad yet, and the season is already four games in.
Sporting a 4 – 0 record, including one league victory, the team prepared for a home game, versus North Collins, on April 17, before heading to Clymer for a road tilt, the following day. Even without practicing on grass before the season began, due to inclement weather, the team was ready for its first game in Forestville.
The West Valley Wildcats started off the season with a 7 – 5 win against Forestville, after jumping out a quick 2 – 0 lead, in the first inning.
Mike Grigsby got the first hit, with a single, and was eventually brought home on Cole Stanbro’s double. Austin Wierzba came home on an error, to double the lead.
The offense got going again in the fifth inning, which saw four West Valley runners come home. A sacrifice fly by Peter Gabel brought in the team’s sixth run of the game.
Throughout the match, the Wildcats got the pitching they needed from Stanbro, who played the whole game at the mound and racked up 15 strikeouts, with five walks.
In the end, Dylan Westfall, Wierzba, Grigsby and Stanbro had 2 runs each, while Collin Proctor had 1 run, to go with 2 RBIs. Coach Bryan Hansen called this game “a great team win.”
The next event was another road game, this time in Franklinville, against the Panthers.
West Valley prevailed, with a lopsided 6 – 0 win. Westfall took the mound, for this game, earning 13 strikeouts, with zero walks, in the shutout. “Dylan’s performance was great, today,” Hansen said. “He went out there and trusted his defense and went right after the batters.”
The offense was led by Keegan Kittle, who had two hits, including a triple and 2 RBIs. Scorers were Grigsby, with 2 and Wierzba, Stanbro, Proctor and Kittle, with 1 each.
West Valley finally opened its home schedule, by hosting Forestville, whom the Wildcats defeated, in the season opener.
West Valley got the lead early and ended up winning 10 – 7, to improve to 3 – 0, on the season.
The first inning saw four Wildcats come home, highlighted by Westfall’s RBI triple. Stanbro brought Westfall in on a single and Proctor followed that up, with an RBI double.
The Wildcats did not relent, during the second inning, and brought home three more runs.
Grigsby, Westfall and Stanbro all had singles, during that inning. “Our bats came alive today and we jumped on the Hornets early,” Hansen said. “The middle of our lineup really came through, today.”
The coach pointed out that Westfall, Stanbro and Proctor, who are three, four and five, respectively, in the batting order, were six for eight and combined for a triple, a double, 5 RBIs and 6 runs.
Derek Wells was on the mound and did not enjoy the same success his fellow pitchers had, during the first two games, walking 11 runners and giving up 2 hits. He did, however, have 6 strikeouts and drew praise from his coach.
“Even though Wells was struggling with his command, he was able to work out the jams, all day long,” Hansen said. “He showed great composure on the mound, today.”
West Valley looked to make it a perfect 4 – 0 start, in its first league game, which was on the road, against the Brocton Bulldogs. Brocton was responsible for ending West Valley’s season, during each of the last two years, which Hansen said “added pressure to make a statement, early this season.” the coach said.
The Wildcats responded by holding a 3 – 0 lead, after the top of the first inning, beginning with Grigsby’s single.
Wells and Westfall were both walked and both came home, when Stanbro hit a deep fly ball, to left field, which the Brocton left fielder failed to catch.
With 2 more runs in the fifth inning and another 3 in the seventh, West Valley took the 8 – 1 victory.
Westfall was the starting pitcher, but went down with an ankle injury, in the top of the third, after accumulating 5 strikeouts, in two innings.
Stanbro finished the game for Westfall, giving up three hits and 1 run, to go with his 7 strikeouts. “Dylan was hustling down the line, like he always does,” Hansen said, after the player’s injury, “and, when his foot hit first base, his ankle gave out.
“It was heartbreaking, to see Dylan go down with an injury like this,” the coach added.
“He is a true competitor and it is tough, to see him go through what he went through.”
The team’s response to losing this player caught the coach’s attention.
“I am so proud of our team and how we reacted to losing a leader,” he said. “Everyone stepped up and finished the game strong. They wanted to win it for Dylan and that is what they did.”
No timetable has been given for Westfall’s return, at press time.
After finishing out the week, the Wildcats will hit the diamond again against Cattaraugus-Little Valley at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 22.