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North Collins grabs Class D baseball title

One year removed from winning a league title, North Collins recorded a disappointing 6-4 record on the baseball diamond heading into the playoffs.

Despite the record, some of Paul Kellner’s players felt a playoff run coming on.

“I really think that we hit the peak of our performance at the right time,” senior David Fera said during a practice after the ending of the regular season. “Right before playoffs, everyone is beginning to peak and come together.”

The Eagles can thank that closeness gained at the end of the season for the length of their playoff run, which has resulted in a sectional championship.

On May 31, second-seeded North Collins defeated No. 3 Brocton, 7-0, to capture the program’s third Class D Section VI championship at Russell Diethrick Park in Jamestown.

“I was expecting to win our league, but we didn’t win our league this year,” said Austin Winter. “But as long as we make it back to that sectional game and hopefully win that game, that’s what matters.”

David Lynch earned the win on the mound and the shut out, pitching a complete game while surrendering only two hits and striking out 11 batters along the way.

Joey English played stellar defense and had the game-winning RBI that drove in Winter in the fourth inning.

The a Eagles would not stop there, scoring four more runs in the fifth with some well-executed bunts and timely hitting.

Jake Jasinski and Chris Pulinski laid down bunts in the fifth that drove in runs and fired up the crowd.

Jasinski finished the day with two hits while Winter, Pulinski, English and Dylan Winter added the other hits for North Collins.

Dylan Winter would drive in the seventh and final run for the Eagles in the bottom of the sixth with a laser to right field.

Brocton would threaten in the seventh when it loaded the bases, but Lynch pitched his way out of it. He also picked off a runner at third earlier in the game to stifle Brocton’s momentum.

Austin Winter made two huge plays up the middle as the Eagles earned their second consecutive postseason shutout, outscoring their opponents by a margin of 28-to-1.

After falling in the semifinals last year, Austin thought of nothing else but winning a sectional title before the season began.

“I thought of us winning our playoff games, making it back to the sectional game and winning the blue patch this year,” he said.

The Eagles earned a 17-0 victory over Ellicottville in the semifinals to advance to the blue patch game.

Austin Winter pitched over five innings, allowing only one hit while his brother, Dylan, pitched the last two innings. He surrendered no hits and no runs as the Eagles stifled Ellicottville all day with solid defense and timely hitting.

Austin also led the offense with four hits and two RBI while Harley Mehnert added three hits of his own, adding a single, double and a triple for five RBI.

Fera blasted a two-run home run in the right center gap in the fifth to make it a 15-0 game.

English added two hits and Jake Fyock added a three-run blast in the fifth to put the game out of reach after falling in the same round last spring.

“It hurt,” Fera said about falling in the semis last year. “You expect yourself to win, so when you don’t, you let yourself down.”

The Eagles’ postseason run began at home with a 4-1 victory over Sherman in the quarterfinals.

Lynch pitched a complete game, surrendering only four hits while striking out 12 batters along the way.

Pulinski tied up the game in the bottom of the first with a solo home run and Fera added an RBI in the sixth inning.

The Eagles only mustered the one hit but managed to score three other runs drawing walks, stealing bases and a throwing error by Sherman.

North Collins will play for the Far West Regional title on June 7 at Russell Diethrick Park.

As the end nears for seniors Fera and Fyock, they just want to end the season on a good note.

“I looked forward to being in charge and being respected by the guys on the team,” Fera said at practice about walking into his final season at North Collins.

“And ending with a bang. I know that this is the last high school baseball season I’ll ever have and I want to finish strong.”


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