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High school baseball: Vikings get a big league win

Tue, May 9th 2017 09:45 am

Sean Pufpaff's fifth-inning home run fuels Grand Island

By David Yarger

Mother Nature has a way of causing baseball games to go certain directions. Monday proved that, as wind and cold temperatures made pitching difficult.

In a game that had 20 combined walks between both teams, the Grand Island Vikings defeated the Niagara Falls Wolverines, 11-4.

The Vikings played as the home team at Niagara Falls due to field conditions at Grand Island.

The Wolverines had a chance to score in the first inning with the bases loaded. Anthony Coty hit a slow ground ball to third that would've scored a run, but Coty was called out on a close play, thus ending the threat.

The Vikings took advantage of two errors in the first and scored two runs to make it 2-0.

The Falls answered back in the second, scoring one run thanks to a Dustin Newman single that scored Pat Sisler.

Grand Island got that run back though, taking advantage of another error. Carson Suffoletta was on third base and the infield was in. Tyler Muggli hit a ball to second base, the second basemen looked toward Suffoletta, who drifted far off the base, threw over to third, but, the throw was errant and Suffoletta scored to make it 3-1 Vikings.

The offenses halted in the third and fourth innings, as both Sisler and Vikings starter Mark Seibert sailed smoothly through the frames.

Niagara Falls tied it in the fifth. Matt Grace led off with a walk and, after a flyout, Mike Laurrie also walked. Ross Pochatko singled to load the bases, and Coty walked to drive in Grace. Jon Orfano followed Coty's walk with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring pinch runner Chris Clark from third.

From that point on, it was all Grand Island. Sean Pufpaff led off the inning with a homerun to the tennis courts in left-center field to give the Vikings the lead for good, 4-3.

Vikings coach Dean Santorio said the home run was a huge momentum shifter.

"We needed that," he said. "I think we only had two hits up to that point, so obviously that home run to put us up 4-3 kind of woke us up a little bit. We put the bat on the ball a little better after his swing. So, that was the big one, definitely."

The Vikings went on to score two more times in the inning to take a 6-3 advantage. The Wolverines had no answers in the sixth, and Grand Island began to tack on more in the sixth.

Muggli walked to start the inning, and then Art Meaney drove him in with a double. Pufpaff walked, and then Cam Sionko drove in Meaney with a single. Roman Cacciatore grounded out to second to drive in Pufpaff, and then the Vikings scored two more after a misplay in the outfield. The five-run inning made the score 11-3, Vikings.

The Wolverines added one more run off a Rory Sanabria single, but it wasn't enough, and Grand Island walked away as the winners, 11-4.

With it being the last week of the Niagara Frontier League season, league wins are crucial. Mother Nature has hit a lot of teams hard with a drenched spring, leaving Grand Island to play seven games in six days to wrap up the season. The Vikings sit in second place at 6-2.

Santorio said the win was important for his team going forward.

"Our league, from top to bottom, I think anyone can win on any given day," he said. "Especially against Niagara Falls, especially the first game of the week when we have six more league games after this coming up. That one was a big one for us, no doubt, to get off to a good start."

The Vikings will be right back at Niagara Falls for their next game, this time as the away team. They take on the Wolverines at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

Other NFL action:

  • Lockport 7, Lewiston-Porter 4 (8 innings)
  • Kenmore West 9, CSAT 2
  • Kenmore East 15, North Tonawanda 4

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