Monsignor Martin baseball playoffs set
St. Francis baseball polished off a superb close to its regular season with an 11-5 victory over Canisius which also set the seedings for the Monsignor Martin Association's Georgetown Cup playoffs.
The Red Raiders (15-4), who had already clinched the regular season title by virtue of Canisius' loss to St. Joe's on Saturday, won their 11th straight game to finish the Monsignor Martin season 12-2.
Senior Paul Wujek made the first start on the mound of his career and went the first three innings, while he also had a big day at the plate with three hits and five RBIs. Senior Bob Reiman saw his first action on the mound since an early-season trip to Florida and earned the win by striking out four and allowing just one earned run in the final four innings.
"Saturday [a win over top small school Fredonia] and today we threw some guys who hadn't thrown much all year and the offense came up big," said St. Francis coach Paul Bartell. "It was nice to get a win with a different guy on Monday."
St. Francis jumped to a 5-0 lead in the third. After Canisius cut it to 5-4, the Red Raiders added four in the fifth.
The game also settled the playoff picture, which included Canisius entering a three-way tie for second at 9-5 with St. Joe's and Bishop Timon-St. Jude. The tiebreaker resulted in St. Joe's taking the second seed, Canisius the third and Timon the fourth.
St. Francis will get back on the field today for its quarterfinal, as it hosts Cardinal O'Hara at 4:15 p.m.
There will be a doubleheader at St. Joe's on Wednesday due to a fair at Cazenovia Park taking over Timon's home diamond. St. Joe's hosts Nichols at 3 p.m. followed by Timon meeting top 10 small school St. Mary's at 5:30.
Canisius will host Christian Central at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Delaware Park.
Winners advance to the semifinals on May 29 at Amherst's Northtown Center with the three-game championship series on June 4, 5 and 6 at Coca-Cola Field.
While on paper the top four seeds might be big favorites, Bartell cautions those who would assume those four will all show up in the semifinals.
"This year our league is a little different -- there have been tighter games," he said. "Even though teams haven't finished well in standings, they have kept it close, and it would not be out of line if there was an upset. Nichols plays tough, Christian Central beat us and Canisius. It will be pretty interesting. With the playoffs spread out -- everyone can come with a No. 1 [pitcher]. Even our game [could be close] -- O'Hara has some good lefties."
Nichols softball earns first finals berth
When the rain delay stopped, Nichols' bats started thundering.
Nichols trailed Holy Angels, 1-0, in the fourth inning when a rain delay halted action of the Monsignor Martin semifinal at West Seneca's Sunshine Park, but it came back when play resumed for a 4-1 victory and its first Monsignor Martin championship game berth in program history.
"We are super proud of our team this year and we're excited to be representing Nichols in the final for the first time," said coach Holly Fewkes. "Once we started 5-3, then 7-3, we started realizing we were going to be a contender, and everyone wanted to make it this far."
The game resumed in the fourth, and after Elizabeth Bourne (14 strikeouts) retired Holy Angels in the top of the inning, Nichols tied it in the bottom when Lizzie Violat led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Jenny Sauter's sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Nichols added three more runs as Nico Tomani bunted for a hit, Lydia Gavner singled, and Olivia Zafuto tripled in both for the 3-1 lead. Morgan McDermott followed with a sacrifice fly to score Zafuto.
Holy Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but Bourne sandwiched two strikeouts around a force play at the plate. In the seventh, the game finished with two straight putouts by shortstop Ashley Lyman.
Around the sectionals
Among Monday's Section VI baseball prequarterfinals, only two teams knocked off higher seeds on the road -- and both in 8-9 games.
Sweet Home got a six-hitter and a three-run home run from Steve Stapleton while Jacob Logiudice went 3 for 4 with two RBIs as the ninth-seeded Panthers routed its way to an 11-0 win at eighth-seeded Starpoint in Class A-1.
Ninth-seeded Newfane won at eighth-seeded Springville, 8-3, in B-1 thanks in large part to Josh Kneeland's six-hitter with seven strikeouts.
Also in A-1, Damian Powers of Williamsville South had a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts while he also had two RBIs in the seventh-seeded Billies' 8-0 rout of No. 10 Kenmore East.