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Vikings outduel Wolverines and elements for victory

Wed, Apr 11th 2018 09:35 pm
Vikings pitcher Art Meaney gets the final out via strikeout for the save and a Grand Island Vikings 3-1 win over Niagara Falls. (All photos by David Yarger)
Vikings pitcher Art Meaney gets the final out via strikeout for the save and a Grand Island Vikings 3-1 win over Niagara Falls. (All photos by David Yarger)
Grand Island uses three pitchers and base running to get past Niagara Falls
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
On Wednesday evening, weather conditions were how they've been for majority of the spring - bitter cold and windy. Despite real feel temperatures in the low 30's, the Grand Island Vikings baseball team defeated the Niagara Falls Wolverines, 3-1.
The Vikings were the home team at the Niagara Falls turf field, due to wet conditions at GIHS.
Colby Muggli got the start on the mound for GI and ran into small trouble early. After getting the first two batters to pop out to second baseman Derek Callen, Muggli gave up back-to-back singles to Dom Geracitano and Anthony Coty. No harm was done, though, as Muggli got the No. 5 hitter Brian Hutchinson to pop to first and end the threat.
On the hill for the Wolverines was Treavor Janese. The junior was dominant throughout the game. Janese gave up a one-out single and stolen base to Cam Sionko, but finished the first inning with a flyout to right fielder Quran Dubois and a strikeout of Frank DePalma.
In the third inning, Muggli gave up a leadoff bunt single to catcher Zach Brydges. Brydges reached third base after a wild pitch and a groundout, but Muggli was able to get another flyout to first to end the top half of the third.
In the fourth inning, three of the four combined runs were scored.
In the top half of the inning, Coty led off with a double down the left field line. Following a walk to Hutchinson, sophomore Mason Hilliard came up with the bases loaded. After taking two pitches, one a strike, Hilliard was instructed to bunt, but missed the sacrifice and later struck out.
With no outs and two men on, Wolverines coach Rob Augustino said he didn't want to be obvious and call bunt on the first pitch.
"It's a little bit of gamesmanship," Augustino said. "I'm not gonna be the guy that says 'OK, first pitch you gotta bunt.' He's probably our best bunter ... so I had confidence in him. I almost called the bunt with two strikes, because he's a really good bunter."
Augustino added that Hilliard took the blame for the at bat following the loss and he still remains confident in the sophomore.
Following the at bat from Hilliard, Santino Manzare walked, which brought up Dubois, who also walked to drive in the Wolverines lone run.
With the bases loaded and one out, Sionko replaced Muggli on the mound and after two pitches, Brydges hit a pop fly, which Callen caught with his back to the infield. Callen then made an errant throw to third baseman Art Meaney. Hutchinson, the runner on third, got a late break and Meaney was able to pick up the ball and throw home to nab Hutchinson for the unusual 4-5-2 double play.
Vikings coach Dean Santorio called the catch the play of the game.
"(Callen) made a silly throw to third; it got away from us, but we make a good throw to the plate and get a big out there. That inning could've hurt us," Santorio said.
Down 1-0, the Vikings answered back with their feet. Meaney struck out to begin the bottom half of the fourth, but advanced to first base on a dropped third strike. Following a hit by pitch to DePalma, Meaney used some baseball IQ to advance to third.
Meaney noticed something in Janese's windup and took off for third base. Janese threw to second and Meaney was safe at third after a late throw, which helped DePalma advance to second. With no outs, John Griffin grounded out to shortstop to score Meaney and a couple pitches later, DePalma scored on a passed ball, giving the Vikings a 2-1 lead off of no hits.
Meaney and Santorio said it was huge to manufacture the runs they did, especially on a tough day to hit.
"That was huge there," Santorio said. "Art did a really nice job on the pickoff move. I think he knew they were gonna come there and he said, 'If they move there, I'm coming hard to third,' which was a big deal and then Frank did a great job scoring on the passed ball."
Meaney said, "The first two pitches he had given me the same one look back then he'd pitch, so on the third pitch I was expecting the same thing. I just went right away and they tried the pickoff. Coach later told me they were going to try that because they saw what I was doing.
"To have some momentum building in games is really important, especially in the cold weather."
The Vikings got their final run in the sixth inning, after Santorio called on Luke Traina to pinch hit for Easton Speer. Fresh off the bench with Griffin at second base, Traina hit the first pitch into centerfield for a two-out RBI single.
In the top of the seventh, Sionko struggled to find the strike zone, and after walking two guys with one out, Santorio called on Meaney to seal the deal.
Meaney was not put in the easiest of situations, with the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Geracitano and Coty set to hit. Meaney wasn't fazed, though, and struck out the two to get the save and a Vikings 3-1 win.
Getting a victory in brutal conditions was essential to Santorio.
"We knew either way whoever won the ballgame was probably going to win it ugly. Just because the conditions; it's hard to go get four or five hits in an inning, so we gotta string together one or two and luckily, we were able to do that. That's against a good Falls team that's always top of the league. We'll take a win in the league against them anytime," Santorio said.
The Vikings pitching staff of Muggli, Sionko and Meaney allowed four Wolverines hits and struck out five batters. Sionko was the winning pitcher, throwing three innings of no-hit ball, despite five walks. Sionko was also the only Vikings batter with two hits.
On the other side, Janese was the tough luck losing pitcher, throwing a complete-game-four-hitter with 10 strikeouts. Augustino praised Janese's effort on a tough day to throw.
"For a kid like him, this actually helps him in the fact that everyone is having trouble out there. He's always going to be around the plate. He can locate his curveball. There were two innings in a row where he threw maybe 10-15 curveballs all for strikes.
"I love the way he throws, the way he attacks ... he's OK to throw any pitch at any time. I think he's never going to put us in a situation where we're getting blown out, because he's always going to battle. Even on a bad day for him, it's like four runs," Augustino said.
The Wolverines continue their season at 4:45 p.m. tomorrow at Kenmore West, while the Vikings play at 4:45 p.m. Friday at North Tonawanda.
Vikings second baseman Derek Callen catches a pop fly in the first inning.
Wolverines pitcher Treavor Janese mans the mound during Wednesday's game versus Grand Island. 
Vikings starter Colby Muggli throws a pitch during the first inning. 

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