WEST VALLEY—Walks, errors, opponents scorching balls into gaps; it was a rough start for West Valley baseball in their quarterfinal playoff game and it cost them, falling to Ellicottville, 12-5, to end their season.
The visiting Wildcats found themselves down 9-1 after two inning of play. Junior Austin Wierzba started the game on the mound for West Valley, and gave up nine runs on five hits before exiting the game with one out in the second inning. Only five of the nine runs were earned as West Valley committed three errors, leading to four unearned runs.
“We got off to a bad start,” West Valley coach Bryan Hansen said. “We hit the first batter, we gave up a double, we hit the next batter, then we had an error and then all of the sudden before you know it, it’s 3-1 just like that. When you walk six guys in the first two innings, they’re apt to score runs. Plus, [Ellicottville] was hitting the ball really well, too. Not only were we walking guys, they were also hitting the spots, hitting the gaps, hitting the holes.”
Jared Ras came on in relief in the second inning and pitched five and two-thirds inning, allowing three runs on three hits, while striking out six batters. After falling behind 9-1, West Valley outscored Ellicottville 4-3 after the second inning, including the Wildcats scoring four runs in the seventh inning in an attempt to mount a comeback.
“We just got ourselves in too big of a hole to climb out of,” Hansen said.
Junior Emil Erlandson led West Valley at the plate; Erlandson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the loss. Erlandson shared the lead in team batting average with Ras, as both hit .300. Erlandson’s average was a big improvement from last season, after hitting just .077 with two hits.
“He was just being more aggressive at the plate,” Hansen said of Erlandson’s improvement. “Instead of going up there and taking pitches, he was swinging the bat and that really helped him. This year he played more of a regular role than he did last year. Last year he was kind of in a fill-in here, fill-in there type role.”
Against Ellicottville, Chad Bolt had a two-run double in the seventh inning. Bolt was called up from modified prior to the game. Pat Enser and Ras each had two hits.
On the season, Ras led the team with 10 RBIs and four extra-base hits. Enser scored a team-high 10 runs.
After going 10-10 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs last season, West Valley had high hopes for this season with six returning starters. Things didn’t go as planned and West Valley went 2-8 in league play.
“Very disappointed,” Hansen said. “Not a lot of bodies over here, there is not a lot guys that play. We finished the year with just 10 varsity guys. “
West Valley will return key starters Ras, Erlandson, Wierzba and Enser next season.