Thursday June 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
In a bright moment for Hamburg in the Class A final, Justin LaRosa gets down the tag on a stealing baserunner and sells the call to the umpire. (Photo by Mike Petro)
Facing a heavily-favored Williamsville South team which had its ace on the mound, Hamburg knew a quick start would be a necessity in order to compete in the Class A final.
The Bulldogs enjoyed some early success, scratching across the first run of the game off South’s hard-throwing Damian Powers in the top of the second inning. But instead of momentum being on Hamburg’s side afterward, the 1-0 lead only seemed to ignite a South team that seems to represent the complete package.
The top-seeded Billies quickly answered with four runs in the bottom of the second and added five more in the fourth, while Powers settled in and threw a five-hit, complete-game in a 9-1 win in the sectional final Thursday (May 30) at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls.
Hamburg played in a third sectional final since 2008 and lost for the first time during that stretch after last winning a title in 2011.
“We were doing everything we can to push some runs across,” Hamburg head coach Steve Chaffee said. “We got them on their heals a little bit and made them realize we were here to play. Our kids did everything I asked and executed early on. And then (South) answered back. I think we woke a sleeping giant there.”
South banged out 13 hits, including four in the second and five in the fourth, the two most damaging of innings.
Besides his eight-strikeout winning performance on the mound, Powers was 3 for 3 with a RBI and reached base all four times at the plate. He settled in on the mound after hitting three batters in the first three innings, ending the second and third with strikeouts to strand three runners.
Fellow senior Tyler Piasecki also finished with three hits, two of which went for doubles, and three RBI. His single in the fourth opened up the big inning. Steve Zaprowski added two hits with three RBI, including a key two-out, two-RBI single in the second and run-scoring double in the fourth.
Pat Stasiak also recorded two hits and a RBI and Billy Harford had a run-scoring triple.
“That’s what it’s all about — we want to grind every pitch like coach (Kraig Kurzanski) says,” said Piasecki, the team’s shortstop who along with Powers will play next year at Division II LeMoyne. “We all play together and as a team, ever since 6:15 practices before school starts. I don’t think I’ve ever played on a team that’s been any closer.”
In Hamburg’s one-run second inning, David Edie led off with a single and took second on a one-out hit from Pat Skelly. Edie moved over to third when Josh Palisano hit into a force play at second. On Palisano’s straight steal of second base, Edie took off for the plate on the throw and was able to score.
Hamburg junior starting pitcher Kyle Sickau was just one strike away from escaping the second inning with the score tied at 1-1 but Zaprowski came up with the a two-out, two-strike hit which was followed by Piaseki’s double.
After Sickau threw four innings, sophomore Cam Ringo came on to pitch two scoreless innings. Brian Castonguay doubled for Hamburg, while Brett Ross was among a few Bulldogs to add late-game singles.
“My hats off to (South). They have such a quality team, a great pitcher supported by a great defense and great hitting,” said Chaffee, whose team was beaten three times this year by the Billies, including in a Powers’ no-hit performance. “I knew if we made a mistake, they’d make us a pay for it. I knew we’d basically have to have a perfect game. It just wasn’t meant to be for us.”