No. 7 Williamsville North stymies Falcons bats; N-W winning streak, season over
By David Yarger
Baseball is a weird game where one day you can manage 10 runs as a team and the next day you get shutout. For the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons, they came into their Section VI Class AA semifinal battle versus No. 7 Williamsville North red-hot, winning their last nine games. Unfortunately, good things come to an end and the No. 3 Falcons were defeated by the Spartans, 3-2.
The Spartans used three pitchers to cool the recently hot bats of Niagara-Wheatfield. Starter PJ Chearmonte carried a perfect game into the fourth inning before giving up his first baserunner.
For the Falcons, Thomas Peltier manned the mound and had one bad inning where the Spartans scored all three runs. Peltier threw seven innings, struck out five batter and walked only two.
Peltier's rough inning came in the third, as the Spartans bundled five straight hits with one out, the big one being a Justin Konotopskyj two-run single to make it 3-0. Andrew Fairbrother also drove a run in earlier in the inning with a double.
Offensively, the Falcons couldn't find a groove versus the combination of Chearmonte and reliever John Hassler.
It wasn't until the fifth inning when the Falcons had their first hit, which was a Peltier infield single that was the equivalent to a swinging bunt.
In the seventh inning, Peltier worked out of a bases loaded jam by striking out the No.8 hitter and keeping the game partially manageable at 3-0.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Chris Cacciatore led off with a walk. The Spartans promptly brought in Austin Mann to finish the job. Mann was greeted by an RBI triple from first baseman Peyton Siegmann, making the score 3-1. A couple pitches later, pinch hitter Peter Lysiak hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Siegmann. Mann settled in, though, as he struck out the next two guys to send the Spartans into the sectional finals.
For N-W coach Jim Hagerty, it's a tough way to end a quality season, but he said that's exactly how playoff games go.
"It's pretty much the way a sectional game goes. As the tournament wears on the games get tighter, the kids get tighter, the opponent gets better," Hagerty said. "Their kid threw a nice game and I don't know how old they are - we're a little bit of a young team. We might've had some jitters but I thought we played well. I thought my guy threw a great game."
The Falcons, throughout the season, haven't gone down easy and have always clawed their way back into games. Hagerty thought the late inning comeback was almost a "characteristic" of his team.
"Honestly, for years we've been decent at late inning rallies. This one was a little different in that they switched pitchers a lot of times. If we see a pitcher a third time, things change," Hagerty said.
The Falcons will have to wave goodbye to five seniors this season - James Filippelli, Billy Scullion, Sam Messana, Kyle Stenzil and Steve Roulley - and Hagerty said he didn't get a chance to talk to them after the game, but when he has the chance he'd thank them for the effort they brought to the team.
The Falcons finished 13-5 on the year and will return 11 players next season.