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High School Extra: West Seneca West, Amherst notch upset wins in baseball playoffs

Upset win for WSW

The playoffs can be unpredictable and that certainly played out in a Class-A1 baseball quarterfinal on Saturday as No. 7 West Seneca West upset No. 2 Grand Island, 7-1, in 13 innings.

The teams were tied, 1-1, when they headed to extra innings.

Grand Island had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth when they had the bases loaded but a strikeout, ground out and fly out ended the threat and kept the game tied.

In the bottom of the 11th, the first Vikings batter singled. Then the next batter hit the ball to center field where the outfielder for West Seneca West misplayed the ball. The runner from first came home and Grand Island thought they had won the game. But it wasn’t that simple.

“There was an appeal that the kid missed home plate,” West Seneca West coach Jeff Helmbrecht said. “He jumped over the plate and the umpire saw it. The kids went out to celebrate, so the kid on first base ran out of the baseline, giving them two outs on the play.”

Play on they did, tied 1-1, until West Seneca West broke out in the 13th.

With one out, Anthony DeJoseph doubled. They loaded the bases thanks to an intentional walk and hit-by-pitch. Then Connor Schermerhorn laid down a bunt for a suicide squeeze play. Grand Island threw the ball away allowing three runs to score. West Seneca West tacked on three more and reliever Evan Benkleman closed out the game.

“We’ve been a pretty resilient team all season,” Helmbrecht said. “We’ve never given up in any situation. Grand Island had our backs against the wall several times. We also made some team mistakes that kept them in it. But we battled. This is a young, resilient group that just believes in the culture of the school.”

Amherst finds groove

Amherst had just one win at the start of the playoffs. But on Friday, they knocked off Cheektowaga in the Class A-2 baseball quarterfinals. Then on Saturday they took out top-seeded Lake Shore with a 4-1 win.

Timely hitting, better defense and better pitching have come together at the right time for the Tigers.

It was pitching that keyed Amherst on Saturday as junior Ben Nagy pitched a complete-game three-hitter with eight strikeouts. Nagy did not give up a hit until the fifth inning, keeping Lake Shore off balance with first-pitch strikes and keeping his delivery around the plate.

Billies win in 7th

Good base running allowed Williamsville South to take advantage of some fielding miscues, giving the fifth-seeded Billies a 4-3 win over No. 4 Kenmore West in an A-1 baseball quarterfinal.

Trailing, 3-2, in the top of the seventh, Josh Foster led off with a walk for the Billies. Kevin McGraw laid a bunt down the third baseline and an errant throw allowed Foster to score and McGraw to advance to third. McGraw then scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a passed ball.

Joe Battaglia went 3 for 4 with an RBI while Nick Huber took the win, throwing 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.

Medina advances

Medina scored in the bottom of the seventh and got stellar pitching from Trevor Luthart to earn a 2-1 win over Akron in a Class B-2 baseball quarterfinal.

Matt Saj scored the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice while Luthart threw a complete-game four-hitter with five strikeouts.

Also in B-2, brothers Jacob Bruning and Charlie Bruning combined for a no-hitter as Roy-Hart advanced with a 5-2 win over Gowanda. Jacob, a senior, earned the win while Charlie a junior, was credited with the save.

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