Niagara-Wheatfield plays through rainy conditions; picks up second NFL win
By David Yarger
Tuesday evening provided some not-so-great conditions to play baseball. Nevertheless, the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons were on the new turf facility at Kenmore West as the home team versus Kenmore East.
In a game that provided 21 walks, double-digit errors, 22 runs and only 11 hits combined by both teams, the Falcons walked away soaked as the victors, 15-7.
The Falcons were led by their 6-9 hitters in the lineup, as the bottom four scored 11 of the 15 runs.
Before the bottom four could begin their day's work, Andrew Stillinger, the Falcons leadoff hitter, began with a walk and a stolen base. After reaching third base, Stillinger scored the game's first run off a passed ball.
Kenmore East answered back in the top of the second inning, as Aidan Bova singled and later scored on an error.
In the bottom half of the second inning, Billy Scullion led off for the Falcons. Scullion sent a one hop blast over the left field fence for a ground rule double. With Adam Liberti up, Scullion played a bit of trickery with the Bulldogs pitcher and catcher. Scullion stole third and then scored on a passed ball, giving N-W a 2-1 lead.
On the stolen base, Scullion said, "I just saw that the catcher wasn't coming back up with the ball quickly and I was just taking advantage of him not really doing that."
The Falcons went on to score five times in the inning, and led after two innings, 6-1.
In the third inning, after batting around in the second, Scullion led off again and walked. After a passed ball advancing him to second, Scullion did it again and stole third base for a second straight time.
After a lineout, Steve Roulley singled to drive in Scullion. Roulley came in to score following an error by the left fielder during Stillinger's third at bat.
After starting pitcher Pete Lysiak halted the Bulldogs' bats to no runs in the fourth inning, Scullion was at it again on the bases.
After reaching on a fielder's choice, Scullion stole second base for his third swipe of the day and then after an errant throw into the infield from centerfield, Scullion broke for third base, which drew another errant throw, allowing Scullion to score again with ease.
Coach Jim Hagerty said in the wet conditions, Scullion being aggressive was necessary.
"It was big," Hagerty said. "He kept them honest. The weather takes a bit off of everybody's execution and he forced them to execute and they weren't able to on some of those."
Following another hit by Roulley and a walk to Kyle Stenzel, Stillinger hit a line drive into left field for an RBI single to score Roulley and the ball rolled under the left fielder's glove, allowing Stillinger to advance to third and scoring Stenzel from first.
After the dust cleared, the Falcons led, 11-1, heading to the top of the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, Lysiak got three consecutive groundouts for his first one-two-three inning. Lysiak finished the day throwing five innings of one-hit ball, allowing no earned runs and striking out four Bulldogs.
On a very difficult day to throw, Hagerty was pleased with what he saw from Lysiak.
"I was actually only gonna let him go once through the order," Hagerty said. "I was trying to keep him at 45 pitches. Based on the weather forecast, we gotta play two on Thursday against Lew-Port. So, when he said he felt good and the results were good, I let him go a little deeper. He had a nice outing."
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs crept closer to the Falcons, converting on an error, four passed balls, five walks and a two RBI basehit. After the inning was said and done, the Falcons led, 11-7.
N-W got four of the six runs back in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Liberti reached third base after a throwing error from the pitcher on a short ground ball. Following the play, Roulley came through with his third hit and second RBI of the game to score Liberti.
Roulley, who finished 3-3 with three runs scored from the No. 8 spot in the order, said the game was big for the team's confidence.
"It means a lot. We've struggled the first two games and to come out and put up a big number really helped. It's kind of driven the team and we're starting to find our stride," Roulley said.
On production for the 6-9 hitters, Hagerty said the output was huge and some of the guys at the bottom won't always be there.
"It helps a lot," Hagerty said. "To some extent, some of those guys are there to see better pitches; I dropped a few guys down in the order today just to try and get them some better pitches, so some of those guys don't belong there everyday of the week, just that's where they were today. It definitely helps to score top to bottom."
Scullion added, "We just have a great core group of guys here and everyone's on the same page with one another. We all want to win, it's what we want to do. Me leading off the innings just had a good footstep for our guys to step in place and keep coming with me."
After extending the lead to 15-7, junior Thomas Peltier came in and closed the door to secure the victory for the Falcons. Peltier struck out two of the four batters he faced.
Offensively for the Falcons, Stillinger went 1-2 with an RBI and two runs scored, Ben Salomon went 1-3 with two runs scored and an RBI and Chris Cacciatore added a two-run double.
The Falcons, now 2-2 in Niagara Frontier League play, are on the road at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday versus Grand Island.