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High School Baseball: Ringo’s walk-off homer completes comeback win for Bulldogs

Pictured above top, Cam Ringo tags out a runner stealing at second base. Later, directly above, the sophomore would create a mass of teammates waiting for him at home plate after a game-winning homer.

Lake Shore also wins in walk-off fashion

It took 11 years as a head coach for Steve Chaffee to see his first walk-off home run.

That wait was ended courtesy of his talented sophomore Cam Ringo in Hamburg’s first official game of the 2013 season in Western New York. Ringo delivered a two-run homer over the right-center field fence at Hamburg with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to finish off a 6-5 win over Starpoint on Monday.

The second-year varsity player put an exclamation mark on a 4 for 4 day at the plate, which included knocking in four of Hamburg’s six runs. He also started as a pitcher and threw four solid innings before leaving the mound due to being on an early-season pitch count.

“It was pretty special to watch,” Chaffee said. “I made sure to get him the game ball afterward…Right now, everything is firing for the kid. He’s also our No. 1 pitcher. There’s not a position he can’t play. He’s a special kid.”

Ringo has been experimenting with hitting from both sides of the plate this year and actually started the game’s final at-bat as a lefty with a runner on first. After trying a drag bat from that side of the plate, he went back to his natural side.

Two pitches later, Ringo hit a towering shot on a high fastball from Starpoint’s Austin Speaker, who was attempting to finish a complete game. Although the pitch wasn’t belt high like he likes it, the calm youngster sent it a long way.

“We wanted to at least get another base runner on and move the runner at first over, but I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to try to win it,’” Ringo said. “I saw the pitch and nothing went through my head — everything seemed so clear and I just swung. It’s not the usual pitch I like, but I jumped on it.”

Sophomore catcher David Edie, who recorded one of Hamburg’s eight hits, led off the bottom of seventh reaching on an infield error. The Bulldogs were unable to bunt him over with their next batter and considered trying the same with Ringo, the team’s lead-off hitter, but the decision to let him swing away certainly paid off in the end.

“Cam has always been a basehitter, but he’s been serving the ball real well and hitting line drives,” said Chaffee of Ringo, who started the season hot, going 5 for 7 in three games at the Mingo Bay Tournament in Myrtle Beach over spring break. “He really got that one up in the jet stream.”

Also for Hamburg, Brett Ross doubled to start off a three-run rally in the fifth inning, putting the Bulldogs up 4-3. Josh Palisano and Nick Tuttle also recorded singles for Hamburg in the win.

Starpoint responded in the sixth to take the lead 5-4 by scoring two unearned runs off reliever Kyle Sickau, who followed Ringo and went two innings. Brian Castonguay pitched a scoreless top of the seventh and earned the win.

Chaffee was happy to see his team respond twice to deficits coming off a season in which that was a rarity for Hamburg.

“Before the bottom of the fifth, I reminded them that as soon as we faced adversity, it was tough for us last year, so show me we’ve got it this year,” Chaffee said. “Then base hit, base hit; we gave up the lead, but came back again.”

Ringo hopes this helps propel a group already with high expectations for the season. “We’ve got a lot of adrenaline and excitement going right now,” Ringo said. “It was a big start to a big year. We feel like we can go deep into the season.”

Also locally, to be successful during a short spring high school baseball season filled with unpredictably, a team must ultimately be good but also a little lucky.

Lake Shore enlisted some of that luck to eke out a division-opening 4-3 win over Cheektowaga on Tuesday (April 16). The Eagles had the heart of their order coming up in the bottom of the seventh and used that to score two runs for the walk-off win.

“We got lucky but it’s a lot better to walk-off the field with a lucky win than no win,” Lake Shore head coach Bob Kowal admitted. “Last year’s team never came-from-behind so it’s nice that these kids have already done it.”

After Dane Cala led off the seventh with a two-strike triple, Cheektowaga decided to pitch to senior catcher Christ Conley, who had already hit a two-run homer and doubled. The Canisius-bound catcher made the Warriors pay with a second double to score the tying run.

Billy Pinter got Conley over to third base and again, Kowal was surprised as Cheektowaga went after the next hitter instead of setting up a potential double-play by intentionally walking Matt Kardach. The senior also made the Warriors regret their decision by singling in Conley for the winning run.

Ryan Joslyn started for Lake Shore and threw five-plus strong innings, scattering four hits, while striking out four and not allowing a walk. Cheektowaga took a 3-2 lead in the sixth with a third unearned run of the game on a sacrifice fly. Matt Brzozowiec finished the game in relief and earned the win.

Kowal said his team played a much cleaner game in getting a rare win over Williamsville East in a non-league 6-2 win which was stopped due to darkness in the sixth inning on April 9.

Three seasons ago, the Eagles lost three times to East, twice in heartbreaking fashion. Last season, the same story. Both years, the teams were in the same division. In 2011, Lake Shore won the ECIC III but were in a different division. The contest ended in the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded for Lake Shore and Conley coming up with one out.

Lake Shore scored a pair in the first as Dane Cala singled, stole second and scored on Billy Pinter’s hit, this after Conley was intentionally walked. Conley stole second and scored on a Matt Kardach sac fly. Kardach gave up two unearned runs in the first as a pair of errors cost the Eagles. In the second, the Eagles scored a pair as benefactors of five Flames’ bases on balls.

In the next inning, Brzozowiec’s bunt was mishandled leading to Kardach scoring. In the fifth, Conley singled, stole a base and scored on Brzozowiec’s sacrifice fly. Jim Barry, Tyler Mascio and Joslyn all tossed an inning as all 15 Eagles got to bat in the win.

Also locally, a young North Collins squad opened CCAA Division IV play with a solid 12-8 victory over visiting Clymer on April 15. Jared Keppel, one of the team’s few returning seniors, contributed both on the mound and at the plate. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, striking out ten batters and surrendering only 3 hits. He also helped his cause with a three-run homer in the fourth and a two-RBI single in the sixth.

Seventh grader Brandon Zielinski enjoyed a productive day at the plate adding two hits and two RBI in the win. Freshman Jacob Jasinski added a two-RBI single in the sixth. David Fera, Austin Winter and Jaden Keough laid down three sacrifice bunts that led to three runs, and the Eagles stole six bases on the day, while playing strong defense.


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