BROTHERLY LOVE — Adam Wolfley leaps onto Kyle McCarthy, following Springville-Griffith Institute’s last out against Olean. Photos submitted by Coriann Carson.
SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute varsity baseball Coach Ron Tamraz said he was “not happy” with the way the S-GI team closed out its regular season, with 3 straight losses, by a combined 20 runs. The three-game skid dropped its league record to 5 – 9.
Limping into the playoffs, the Griffs faced an uphill battle, to win a sectional crown. The challenge started with a bout with sixth-seeded Eden, to kick off the Section VI playoffs. Eden came into the game with an 8 – 3 record.
The Griffs put their ace and reigning first team all-star Drew Scharra on the mound. After Scharra loaded the bases, in the bottom of the sixth, Jon Weronski walked in a run, but followed that up with a strikeout, inducing an inning-ending double play. Weronski closed out the game, in the bottom of the seventh, for an 8 – 1 Springville win.
NOT ON MY WATCH — Springville’s Kyle Crotty tags out an Eden runner, who was trying to steal third base. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
“Turning three double-plays certainly helped,” Tamraz said. “When our pitchers got ahead in the count and threw strikes, they made the team a lot more lively, and it certainly showed.
“We played pretty good defense, turning three double plays and keeping them off the base paths. Our pitchers only allowed three hits. We’re still a little concerned, with the number of walks we’re giving up, but we were able to fight through that and make some plays, to help them out.”
Tyler Conklin hit a 2-run single, in the third inning, and led the Griffs at the plate, with two hits.
“He was swinging at good pitchers and making good contact,” Tamraz said, about Conklin.” He had one bad swing, in the first inning, but after that, he settled right down. A lot of baseball is playing with confidence. He made a couple nice plays, in the field; he was involved with two of our double plays that we turned and excitement just breeds excitement.”
Billy Dickinson and Scharra also had two hits, in the victory. Springville moved on for a bout with third-seeded Olean. The Griffs traveled to Olean on May 21, for a battle with the 10 – 2 Huskies.
GET HIM OUT — Springville-Griffith Institute player Kyle Crotty (far left) gets Olean’s Chance Anzivine in a run down.
With sophomoreKyle Crotty on the hill for Springville, Olean took a 4 – 0 lead, following a triple by the Huskies’ Chance Anzivine, in the bottom of the third. In the top of the fourth, Springville came back. Adam Wolfley and Dickinson got on base, to start the inning, and an RBI single by Scharra scored Wolfley from second. Crotty ripped a 2-run single up the middle, to knot the game at 4 – 4.
Kyle McCarthy hit an RBI single that scored Will Lawton, to give Springville a 5 – 4 lead. Olean tied the game, in the bottom half of the fourth, with a sacrifice fly to left center.
Scharra walked, with one out in the fifth, before he stole second base. Crotty finished off a three-hit day, with another RBI single, that scored Scharra, to give the Griffs the lead back. The Huskies loaded the bases, with no outs, in the sixth, but with Olean threatening, Crotty used a strikeout and two fly outs, to get out of the bases-loaded jam.
With Olean down to its last out, in the bottom of the seventh and a runner on second base, McCarthy made a leaping catch on a ball, to end the game and give Springville the 6 – 5 victory.
“This is the type of game that baseball is all about,” Tamraz said, after the game.
”Olean was a great team; they played well. They put a four-spot on us early; Kyle made a few bad pitches, but he didn’t let it affect him, and came back. So did we. We grinded it out; we did what we needed to do. We made plays, on offense and defense. I mean, hey, when you win a 1-run ball game, with the tying run on second base, in the last inning, that takes a lot of guts.”
Earlier in the season, Crotty had a shoulder injury and broke his thumb, after getting hit by a pitch against Pioneer, last week. Crotty led Springville on the mound, tossing a complete game, striking out five and going 3 – 3, with three RBIs at the plate, even with the thumb injury.
“He definitely put the team on his back, at times today,” Tamraz said, of Crotty.
“Even after giving up the 1 run in the sixth, we had another bases-loaded situation, later in the game. He just said, ‘Uh-uh, I want the ball coach. I can get the job done.’ That’s huge; that’s the kind of stuff we’re looking for, in all of us.”
The Griffs put eight of their nine batters on base and accumulated 13 base runners, to put pressure on Olean. After winning five league games, the Griffs have upset two teams, with a combined record of 18 – 5.
“I think too many of these kids watch hockey, where the regular season doesn’t really mean anything,” Tamraz said, about his team’s showing in the regular season, with a laugh.
“[In that sport] all we have to do is practice for the playoffs. If that’s the case, I’ll take it, this year, but I’d much rather see us go and play like this, from the start,” he added.
“Even though we have a lot kids who played last year as sophomores, but still, we have a lot of 15- and 16-year-olds. It does take for everyone to understand what it takes, to be a good baseball team.”
Springville looked to add another upset to its resume, with a game against second- seeded Albion, on Friday, May 24.