Going big time wasn’t a prerequisite for making this year’s Coaches’ All-Western New York baseball team.
It just worked out that way for the seniors selected to the 11-man team because they played such a vital role in the successes of their respective teams.
Four helped their teams reach the state final four. One is a past state champion, while the other moved from obscurity and into the limelight when he was the only high school-aged player from Western New York to be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Nick Hamilton is no longer a no-name as the speedy Lockport senior became the fourth Western New York high school player selected by a Big League club in the last three years. The Boston Red Sox selected the outfielder/designated hitter in the 11th round of last month’s draft.
The Lions’ leadoff hitter batted .440, stole 12 bases in just 13 games and scored 22 runs on as many hits. He also smacked four homers for a Lockport team that finished 7-7 in the Niagara Frontier League and lost a one-run game to Williamsville North in the playoffs.
Hamilton, who signed his professional contract and is currently playing rookie ball for the Red Sox’s minor-league team in the Gulf Coast League, joins Orchard Park’s Dave Hollins (2014 35th round, Detroit), Clarence’s Mark Armstrong (2013 third round, Cincinnati) and Amherst’s Jonah Heim (2013 fourth round, Baltimore) as Western New York talents to catch scouts’ eyes.
“I don’t know if more scouts are coming out or what,” Lockport coach Dan Petock said in regards to the run of area scholastic players to be drafted. “There’s just more talent out there.”
“It’s something that’s been building and progressing to that point,” said Orchard Park coach Jim Gibson when asked if scouts are paying more attention to the area. “Armstrong was kind of a special kid. You don’t see someone throw 90 like he does often. Hollins had the pedigree. The kid from Lockport, he’s just unbelievably fast. Off-the-chart speed as an athlete.”
While Hamilton is now a professional, he could have some company down the road should the others who earned All-Western New York honors thrive in college like they did at the scholastic level.
Andrew Sipowicz, the Prep Talk Awards Player of the Year, carried Orchard Park (22-2) to its first state final four since 1988 with his bat and arm. Though recruited as a pitcher by Canisius College, the future Golden Griffin hit .481 out of the cleanup spot with 17 RBIs and 23 runs scored during the regular season. He knocked in the winning run in the Quakers’ Far West Regional win over McQuaid. On the mound, he went 5-1 on a team filled with talented pitchers. He limited opposing batters to a .165 average and struck out 33 in 34 innings.
Classmate Brandon Nicholson made the smooth transition from second base to shortstop, Hollins’ spot last year, and had 41 hits in just 19 games. He will play at Niagara County Community College.
Hamburg reached the state semifinals for the first time in its history, relying heavily on the top battery of senior pitcher Cameron Ringo and classmate catcher David Edie.
Ringo, who signed with Binghamton University, won the memorable eight-inning pitching duel in the Class A final against fellow All-WNY pitcher Evan Threehouse of Olean. The Bulldogs walked off with that 2-0 sectional championship win on Edie’s two-run homer after Threehouse was lifted for a reliever.
That game was part of a postseason stretch in which Ringo struck out 25, walked two and yielded just four hits over 17 innings of scoreless work. He also earned the win in a nonleaguer against Orchard Park prior to the postseason, striking out 10 in five innings in that 3-2 decision.
Edie, a Western New York Scholar Athlete with an outstanding SAT score, will attempt to walk on at Division II Southern New Hampshire in Manchester after batting .547 and driving in 32 runs.
Fredonia senior Cameron Voss will take his talents to NCCC after setting the school record for career pitching wins (28), which includes the triumph in the 2013 state Class B final.
Youth served on All-WNY team
Two sophomores and three juniors also earned spots on the team selected by area coaches. Threehouse, who is receiving Division I interest, finished with a 0.94 ERA and limited foes to a .139 average as he suffered his lone loss of the season in that sectional final against Hamburg.
Longtime Canisius coach Bryan Tenney said Dan Dallas is the best overall player to come through the Crusaders’ program in the last 20 years. Dallas, who is verbally committed to Monmouth, hit .553 and played near flawless defense (.992 fielding percentage) at first base and pitcher. On the mound, he went 6-1 with a 0.62 ERA.
Junior Jacob Victor, a fiery competitor, led Georgetown Cup champion St. Francis in doubles (nine), triples (three) and RBIs (27).
Lancaster sophomore Leugim Castillo moved up from second team to first team and still hasn’t reached his full potential. He hit .479 with 16 stolen bases.
Sophomore Dawson Bailey of Lewiston-Porter finished with 31 hits, including 15 doubles and two homers as the Lancers went 9-5 in the NFL.