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Johnson steps up to plate as Player of Year

In baseball, it's easy to get caught up in numbers. Asa Johnson wouldn't let that happen.

"It's fun to looks at numbers, you know strikeouts, average, that kind of stuff, but it's really about how the team did," the Frewsburg senior said. "We had a great bunch of guys and we had a lot of fun playing. We just loved coming to the ballpark everyday. It was just a super year."

Western New York's baseball coaches agree that Johnson's season was super as they named him the 2010 Player of the Year.

Frewsburg won its first 24 games before a season-ending loss in the state semifinals. Johnson was equally dominant on the mound and at the plate. The right-hander went 9-0, giving up just five earned runs in 60 innings. He struck out 110 while walking 14. As a five-year starter his record was 36-2. At the plate he batted .452 with 12 doubles among his 33 hits.

The Bears take a 31-game league winning streak into next season. They won the Section VI Class C title for the fourth year in a row.

Johnson leads the 39th annual All-WNY team, chosen by area coaches.

The top young prospect in Western New York is shortstop Thad Johnson of Frewsburg, the only sophomore to make the first team and the younger brother of Asa. He's already a four-year starter. He moves up from making second team as a freshman. Johnson also plays football, and in swimming he's one of the state's top breaststrokers.

The only repeat pick is senior left-hander Joel Klock of Grand Island, who has signed with Niagara University. His memorable four-year career included two no-hitters and winning or sharing three Niagara Frontier League titles. This season on the mound he struck out 70 in 46 innings and had a 0.61 ERA. At the plate he batted .554, driving in 31 runs and scoring 34.

Seniors Brad Rush and Nate Lester led Albion to a 22-1 record this season and a combined 43-3 the last two years. The Purple Eagles won the Niagara-Orleans League and Section VI Class A titles, losing to Pittsford-Sutherland in the Far West Regionals.

Clarence won the sectional Class AA title for the second year in a row. The Red Devils are represented on All-WNY by second baseman Adam Urschel. He had a two-run single in the 7-3 win over Orchard Park in the sectional final. A state title eluded Urschel in baseball, but not in swimming. He anchored the Red Devils' championship 200 free relay last fall, breaking the state record in the process at 1:24.54.

All-WNY center fielder Dylan Colburn provided a steady stick for Pine Valley, pounding out 44 hits and scoring 53 runs. The Panthers settled a score of sorts beating North Collins in the sectional Class D final. North Collins had defeated the Panthers in last year's title game and during this year's regular season.

Two coaching milestones were achieved as Jim Palano of Timon-St. Jude recorded his 500th win in what was his 35th season and Gary Mannella of Albion retired after 21 seasons.

Tonawanda won its first sectional title in 27 years. The Warriors advanced out of the Far West Regionals and weren't done until bowing in the state Class B semifinals.

Charles Mosey had a .563 on-base percentage batting leadoff for Orchard Park. He ranged in center field to make many highlight-reel catches, including a game-saving grab against Lancaster.

Making the Empire State Games Scholastic team were: Thad Johnson (Frewsburg), Vinny Bomasuto (Dunkirk), Zach Lauricella (Clarence), Rich Hopcia (Alden), Christian Brigham (West Seneca East), Shawn Larson (St. Francis), Jesse Zeller (Tonawanda), Eric Stolzenberg (Williamsville East), Angelo Harkins (JFK), Phil Stasiak (Williamsville South), Dave Orlowski (Iroquois), Kris Kruszka (Gowanda), Josh Vaccaro (Canisius), and Rohn Pierce (Newfane).

Two-time Georgetown Cup champion, Canisius, landed Kyle McClain on the second team.

The polls champions this year were Clarence (large schools) and Frewsburg (small).

e-mail: mmonnin@buffnews.com

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