A postseason loss to Springville 12 months ago remained on the minds of the Alden Bulldogs when they took the field against the Griffins in Thursday’s sectional final.
Coach Tom Zaccardo’s baseball team knew success was likely with the group coming back this spring. Led by a sophomore standout on the mound it all came to fruition.
The Bulldogs ended a 32-year wait without a sectional title when sophomore Tom Bednarski overcame Dan Wirfel’s 12 strikeouts with 13 of his own. He even added a three-run triple in their five-run third inning as Alden took the Section VI Class B-1 championship over Springville, 7-2, at Gowanda High School.
They will meet six-time defending B-2 champion Fredonia in the overall Class B final at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls.
The top-seeded Hillbillies were led by Jared Burmaster’s fine pitching in the final three frames and a game-winning RBI double from sophomore Seth Schrader in the fifth to top No. 6 Wilson.
Bednarski was masterful on the mound, giving up just three hits and almost clearing the 345-foot fence on his triple to garner Alden’s first sectional crown since 1984.
“Usually it takes a couple of innings to get rolling,” said Bednarski. “It finally happened, we started to make contact with the ball. We were just on fire.”
Bednarski also scored a run on Nate Reger’s double. Reger scored later in the third for a 5-0 advantage.
Kyle Warner and Matthew Sobota scored in the sixth for Springville but Alden’s John Bobeck got a run back at the bottom.
The 4 p.m. scheduled start of the B-2 tilt did not begin until 6:50 p.m. as the field crew had to patch up what was a pond for a diamond much of the evening due to a rainstorm.
“I felt like as long as we stayed focused and stuck to playing good baseball we’ll be all right,” said senior Damien Jackson.
Fredonia, capturing its ninth title in 11 seasons, has seen plenty of heroes throughout their championship runs, and on Thursday Schrader was one them.
Down a run the sophomore sent a shot into left-center field that drove in two runs to take the lead. He followed up his timely hit with a run scored on an error at first.
“I was just looking to hit something hard,” said Schrader, “preferably on the line or on the ground. I got a nice pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it.”
Johnson put Fredonia on the board with an RBI triple in the second deep into right field. Ryan Mroczka scored the run after getting on base courtesy of a hit-by-pitch, his school record 13th of the season.
Wilson responded when John Bender’s double drove in a run in the third, and then saw his Lakemen take a 2-1 advantage in the fourth when Connor Seeley stole home plate.
Reid Tamowski got the start but Burmaster’s four strikeouts sealed the deal.
“Jared is the key to our team this year,” Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said.