Niagara Falls only musters 3 hits vs. Ken-West pitching
By David Yarger
Coming into the 2017 season, Niagara Falls' lineup was built to hit and score runs. On Tuesday against Kenmore West, the Wolverines did the opposite.
Behind a dominant 6-1/3 innings from starter Dom Schmidt, the Ken-West Blue Devils defeated the Niagara Falls Wolverines, 11-3.
Schmidt struck out seven batters, gave up two hits and gave up 2 earned runs, both which came in the seventh inning.
The Blue Devils offense gave Schmidt all the run support he'd need behind 11 hits.
They got off to a quick start, as leadoff hitter Kyle LaPlante walked and got to second on a wild pitch. After a single and stolen base by No. 2 hitter Zach LaPlante, West had runners on second and third. With one out, Adam Pray hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Kyle LaPlante from third. The team took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the first.
Schmidt was in trouble early, as Dom Geracitano reached first on a dropped third strike, and then Ross Pochatko walked. With one out, Michael Laurrie laced a line drive back to Schmidt. He reacted quick, caught the liner, and threw to second for the double-play, thus avoiding the threat.
Ken-West unleashed in the second inning for 4 runs off five hits. The inning was highlighted by Zach LaPlante's 3-run homerun over the right-centerfield fence. This put the Devils up 5-0.
The Wolverines had no answer for West, as they got their first hit in the third inning of a Dustin Newman double.
Scoring continued in the fourth inning for West, as Adam Pray notched his second RBI of the game, driving in Mike Gourlay from third base to make it 6-0 Blue Devils.
The Wolverines first run came off an errant throw on a double-play in the fourth inning, to make it 6-1.
In the fifth inning, the Blue Devils took advantage of three walks to score 3 runs. Zach LaPlante drove in his fourth run of the day, and then Rich Fries drove in two more with a base hit. The Blue Devils led in the top of the fifth, 9-1.
Schmidt came out in the bottom of the fifth and struck out the side.
Schmidt helped his own cause by driving in a run and scoring in the sixth, making the score, 11-1, Blue Devils.
In the bottom of the seventh, Niagara Falls added 2 more runs after a Geracitano walk and an RBI single by Rory Sanabria, but it wasn't enough. The final was 11-3, Blue Devils.
Coach Rob Augustino noted the latest offensive struggles, as the team has scored only 4 runs in its past three games.
"We're putting ourselves in bad positions," he said. "When you're sitting yourself in an 0-1, 1-2 count all the time, well, guess what? Now you're trying to hit the pitcher's pitch instead of them throwing you the pitch you want to hit."
Augustino said the same could be said on defense, as pitchers are getting down in the count and having to throw fastballs that are getting hit.
He also praised Ken-West for the game it played and how it came out on offense.
"Ken-West is a very aggressive team, and I'll give them all the accolades possible," he said. "They swung aggressively at the plate, they moved around on the bases, and their pitcher threw strikes. Simple as that; throw strikes and put the ball in play, and good things will happen."
In a tough game, Augustino found a few positives in the outcome.
"I thought Kinney came in and threw well. I though Newman came in and threw OK," he said. "As far as offensive positives, Chris Clark and Rory came off the bench, not swinging all game, came in, got in the box, and they swung. I give them credit for being aggressive."
The Wolverines' next game is Thursday at Lockport. Augustino said his squad would have to make the other team work.
"Small things. Focus, do the simple things," he said. "Throw strikes, put the ball in play, and make them work - make them get you out, not you get yourself out."
Augustino said it's a long season. His team is 2-2, and also has notable injuries it's taking care of. He said he believes the team is fine.
The next game on Thursday will be at 4:45 p.m. at Outwater Park.