When pitcher Jeff Pierce took his 2004 Newfane baseball team to the New York State championship game, the feat was not lost on little brother, Rohn.
Jeff was later named third team All-State and second team All-WNY for the state runners-up Panthers. What would Rohn, seven years his younger, be able to accomplish when his time came?
Today we know. The Newfane senior has been named the 2011 Western New York Player of the Year, highlighting selections to the 40th annual All-WNY baseball team. The team is chosen by local coaches.
"We're very close," Rohn said of the relationship with his brother, who went on to a college career. "He's like my mentor, and I learned from his mistakes, and he's helped me become a better baseball player. He told me to never give up, and keep my head up, even when I'm maybe not throwing as well as I should."
Those outings were rare. Pierce started the season with a no-hitter against Medina in which he struck out 18. He finished with a 7-0 record and 0.40 ERA with 120 Ks in 62 1/3 innings. At the plate he helped himself with a .430 average with 17 RBIs as the Panthers won the Niagara-Orleans League.
"He's an outstanding kid with a great attitude, great heart, work ethic and leads by example," coach Jeff Kneeland said. "He is truly what high school sports are all about."
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-hander could throw his fastball by hitters. He was a four-year starter and carried a 95 average academically. He has signed a national letter of intent with Canisius College, where he plans to study biology.
Two players from the CCAA are the only repeat picks on All-WNY: Vinny Bomasuto of Dunkirk and Thad Johnson of Frewsburg.
Dunkirk was the only team from Section VI to advance to the state final four.
Bomasuto carried the Marauders (17-7) to the Class B state semifinals, where they bowed out against Briarcliff of Section I. He homered in that game to finish with a .596 average. Nineteen of his 31 hits were for extra bases. On the mound he was 10-2 with 80 strikeouts in 75 innings. Bomasuto will be remembered as a fierce competitor with all the tools to win.
"His discipline at the plate while knowing he was being pitched to 'very carefully' was second to none," said coach Frank Jagoda.
Frewsburg captured its fifth straight Section VI Class C title behind the play of Johnson at short and his .556 batting average. Johnson hits to all fields and is a threat on the bases.
Clarence won Class AA for the third year in a row riding the bat and arm of Zach Lauricella. The Red Devils' ace on the mound this season, he's expected to play the infield at St. John's next season. Coach Dave Smith called Lauricella "the best player I have ever coached and maybe will ever coach -- by far."
Lauricella is a gifted athlete who also quarterbacked the football team to the Class AA title last fall.
Phil Stasiak of Williamsville South completed his high school career being named All-WNY first team in football, second team in basketball and first team in baseball. In football he was a record-setting wide receiver, in basketball he's the Billies' all-time leading scorer and in baseball he's the school's all-time leader in career hits.
It was no surprise when Kraig Kurzanski, who is also his football coach, called him the most complete player he's ever coached.
> Around the horn
Canisius retired the Georgetown Cup with its third consecutive title. Second-team picks Josh Vaccaro and Sean Tenney led the way as the Crusaders put together a 20-win season.
Kenmore East celebrated its first Niagara Frontier League title in 17 years and ended the season ranked No. 7 among WNY large schools. The program was coming off a 5-15 season in 2010. "We came out of nowhere through courage, heart, love of teammate and hard work," coach Leslie Simon said.
Michael Wagner was named the Athlete of the Year at St. Francis. The Red Raiders played for the Georgetown Cup title in all four of his years as a starter. He showed a strong arm and range in the outfield.
Orchard Park outfielder John Knauth had three hits in the Class AA title game.