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High School Baseball: Clarence, Armstrong down Frontier

Since last stepping off the field in the Class AA semifinal last June, Clarence has eagerly awaited stepping back on to a diamond for its first league game this season.

The Red Devils got that chance for the first time in 2013 on Monday (April 15) at Frontier and behind their big right-hander Mark Amrstrong, took full advantage of the opportunity. Clarence earned a division-opening 7-1 win over the Falcons.

Head coach Dave Smith said his team was very relaxed as it began the ECIC I season after division foe Lancaster ended the Red Devils’ Section VI title defense last season in the playoffs.

They had good reason to be with Armstrong on the mound. After allowing a run in the bottom of the first inning, the University of Pittsburgh-bound Armstrong took command of the game for Clarence, allowing just four hits and holding Frontier scoreless throughout the rest of the game.

“When Mark is on the mound, you know you can beat any team in the state,” noted Smith.

Along with his complete-game, 12-strikeout performance on the mound, Armstrong also had a big day at the plate registering a two-run homer in the first and a RBI-single in a three-run sixth inning. Amrstrong also is being looked at by pro scouts.

“I try and block them out and treat them as fans,” Armstrong said of scouts. “Every kid would want to wish they had someone looking at them, but it doesn’t phase me at all.”

After the game, Frontier head coach Mike Morlock tried to stress to his team the importance of the positives that came out of this game. Morlock gave credit to Armstrong, calling him one of the best pitchers in Western New York.

Falcons’ senior hurler Brandon Jewett pitched a complete-game, recording four strikeouts. Leading Frontier offensively was junior third baseman Joe Yetman, who went 2 for 3 at the plate, including driving in Frontier’s only run with a RBI-double in the first.

Frontier started off the bottom of the first swinging the bats well as senior outfielder Kevin Marcinkowski connected for a single. He scored on Yetman’s blast to centerfield. However, Clarence took a 4-1 lead through five innings before putting the game away in the sixth.

Clarence leadoff-hitter and shortstop Bobby Florio went 2 for 3 with a RBI and run scored, while second baseman Bryan Jost added two singles and two RBI. Matt Nawrot, Mark Materise and Ryan Jelonek all added hits.

Frontier loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Jim Gleason singled past the shortstop and centerfielder Evan Johnston also got one through the Clarence infield. Armstrong hit Marcinkowski to load the bases but then struck out the next batter ending the game.

To start the season, Frontier played in the prestigious Mingo Bay Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Morlock said his team had “a lot of positive things came out of the tournament.” Frontier even got to face the 10th-ranked team in the country.

“It helped get some growing pains out of the way,” noted Morlock, who brings back only two regular starters from last season’s 8-6 team that advanced as far as the Class AA quarterfinals.

The Falcons began a grueling stretch of five games in as many days. They played at Orchard Park on April 16, followed by at Williamsville North and home contests with West Seneca West on April 18 and Jamestown on Friday and Hamburg on Saturday.


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