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CEBA Summer Baseball: Hamburg gains positioning in standings by outlasting rival Frontier

Pictured from top, Frontier’s Alex Colunio fields a throw on a Tommy Moses’ steal; Brendan Solinski makes solid contact for Frontier; Hamburg shortstop Ryan Dils winds to throw; and Hamburg’s Jordan Paxson kicks up a cloud of dirt as he slides into third. (Photos by Michael J. Petro)

Even when it’s just summertime baseball, the rivalry between Hamburg and Frontier can elicit some spirited play from both sides.

The two evenly matched CEBA Scholastic Division rivals met for the first time this season Thursday (July 11) at Hamburg as they battled for playoff positioning in the South Division of the 18-and-under Western New York league.

A back-and-forth contest throughout the first five innings, Jason Lucarelli’s bomb into right field that wound up as a two-run round tripper in the bottom of the sixth turned out to be the difference in a 9-7 win for Hamburg. Frontier had led 7-5 before Hamburg scored two in the fourth to tie it up.

It was Lucarelli’s first at-bat after coming in for Ryan Dils at shortstop. The hit officially went down as a triple with the relay throw getting away from the Frontier second baseman but it certainly went far enough to go for a home run on most evenings. Scoring the go-ahead run was Tommy Moses, who had led off with a single.

Hamburg moved ahead of Frontier for fourth place in the league’s South Division. Both teams came into the game sporting a 3-3 record with each having five games remaining in the regular season after Thursday before the start of the league playoffs on Aug. 1.

“Absolutely,” Hamburg head coach Doug Herr said emphatically when asked if it was nice to beat a rival in Frontier even if it is only in summer ball. “It was a battle for positioning in our division and it was a good game. They’re about at our level.”

Dan Harrington came into the game in relief of starting pitcher Jordan Paxson to begin the fourth and picked up the win after throwing three scoreless innings. It’s been pitching depth that has helped Hamburg play above .500 baseball.

“We’ve got a well-rounded pitching staff,” Herr noted. “It helps especially when you play this many games in a short time.”

Connor Tucker also delivered a hit during Hamburg’s two-run fourth inning. Ryan Filas recorded a two-RBI double in a three-run second inning for Hamburg. Ryan Herr and David Edie also continued to play well this season in the win.

Hamburg was the benefactor of nine walks allowed by Frontier as it scored in five of six innings at the plate.

Frontier had taken the lead thanks to the team continuing to play aggressively at the plate and on the bases. Jimmy Smith, who reached base twice, including singling earlier in the game, and Paul Brinkel, who singled, both came around to score to put Frontier up two in the top of the fourth.

Nate Sawicki, Alex Colunio and Josh Yetman each recorded hits during Frontier’s three-run third inning. Zack Balzer, Josh Yetman, Sawicki and Brinkel all had two-hit games for Frontier.

With two outs in the sixth, pinch-hitter Ryan Neidermeier smacked a double and Balzer followed with a single to create a first and third situation. But from behind the plate, Moses picked off the lead runner at third as Frontier attempted a steal of second.

On the mound in the bottom of the sixth, Yetman held Hamburg scoreless for the first time in an inning Thursday. Fittingly, Lucarelli ended the game in the seventh, catching a hard-line drive at shortstop and then doubling up the runner at first as Frontier got a little too aggressive on the bases.

“Our team is developing into an aggressive hitting team,” Frontier head coach Jim Sawicki said. “If there’s a pitch to be hit, they put it in play. We’ve also been very aggressive on the bases and have made very few errors in the field.”

Despite the loss, coach Sawicki has also been happy with how upbeat his team’s been throughout the season. That attitude has helped Frontier win some impressive games, including beating division front-runner East Aurora and third-place Gowanda in earlier-season action. Elma sits in second in the South.

“It’s a fantastic and coach-able group that is very supportive of each other in the good and bad times,” Sawicki said. “The kids volunteer to do anything, whether it’s to play a position they haven’t played since Little League or just being the extra hitter for the game.”

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