A three-run deficit early on against a Fredonia team that hadn’t lost to a Western New York opponent all season would seem like a difficult hill to climb for most baseball squads.
Not the way Olean hits the ball.
The Huskies, who have averaged more than 11 runs a game this season, responded to a three-run second inning from Fredonia by putting up four in the third and five in the fourth and then held off the Hillbillies late for a 12-8 victory in the Class B-1 championship game between the pair of defending sectional champions at Gowanda High School.
“We’ve had that kind of confidence all year,” said Olean coach Les DeGolier, whose team won Class A last season. “We feel like we can hit the ball with anybody. We just kept a level head and started to hack
The Huskies (16-2) will face Class B-2 champion Roy-Hart, which won the program’s first sectional title, in the B crossover final at noon on Saturday at Orchard Park. The Rams (17-2) defeated Medina 4-2 in the evening’s second game.
“These guys have fought so hard all season to get to this point,” Roy-Hart coach Mike Tarnowski said. “They’re battle tested.”
Fredonia (16-2) hadn’t lost a game to a Buffalo-area team all season until it met fellow Southern Tier power Olean. It’s the first time since 2010 that Fredonia didn’t win a B-1 or B-2 final.
“We never gave up,” said Fredonia coach Vince Gullo, whose team cut the deficit to 10-8 after six innings before Olean scored two insurance runs in the seventh. “To Olean’s credit, we just couldn’t get that shut-down inning. We’ve been pretty fortunate over the years and we’ve had a good season; this scars it a little bit, I suppose, but we lost to a good team.”
Senior third baseman Zach Plarr, who had two homers in a lopsided semifinal win over Lackawanna, came through with three hits and five RBI for Olean. He ignited the four-run third with a two-RBI single and then scored on an errant throw to put Olean up 4-3 and the next inning, he added another two RBI-single which just squirted under the glove of the second baseman. Olean, which finished with 15 hits, stretched its lead to 9-3 after four innings.
“Our bats came alive and we knew we had something going after that,” Plarr said. “We’re a good contact team and we know if we’re down we can come back.”
Senior first baseman August Brainard-Brunelle finished with two hits, including a double, and three RBI for Olean, which added one in the sixth and two in the seventh, after Fredonia got closer with two in the bottom of the fifth and then three in the sixth.
Also for Olean, senior centerfielder Lucas Chapman notched three hits and two runs scored; Dylan Vincent had two hits and three runs; Nick Crandall recorded two hits and two runs; and Jarrett Prizel added two hits (double) and a pair of runs.
Senior catcher Ryan Mroczka finished with two hits (double) and four RBI to lead Fredonia and Tyler Winchell added a two-RBI double.
Olean chased Fredonia starter Reid Tarnowski in the fourth and then reliever Jared Kowalski after he walked consecutive batters, before the Hillbillies went to Tyler Swartz, who ended the inning but not before nine batters went to the plate. Meanwhile, Olean starter Josh Miles (four strikeouts) gutted out 5 1/3 innings before giving way to Dylan Vincent, who closed out Fredonia in the sixth with a strikeout with two runners on base.
He retired Fredonia in order in the seventh.
In the B-2 final, Charlie Brigham had a two-RBI single in the first inning as second-seeded Roy-Hart built a 4-0 lead after two and never trailed No. 4 Medina. Roy-Hart starter Walker Samanka and Jacob Bruning combined on the winning pitching effort, scattering five hits. The left-handed Bruning threw four scoreless innings, striking out seven. Trevor Luthart pitched six strong innings for Medina, allowing just five hits. Medina scored twice in the third.