Weekly Feature

2017-05-17 / Sports

Baseball team wins four of five games

Sports Reporter

Clarence’s baseball team was able to close out league play in style this past week, winning three of the four ECIC I contests it had on the docket — including Saturday’s 8-0 conquest of Jamestown in its finale — to complete divisional play in second place with an 11-3 record.

Andrew Lorenz, Alex Fetter (win) and Alex Croff split time on the mound for the Red Devils, receiving the help needed at the plate by way of Clarence’s five-run second inning. Colin Arndt and Mike O’Brien each had two-run singles to power the Red Devils’ push, while Niko Arroyave Mullen pushed the other run home by drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Arroyave-Mullen also pushed home Clarence’s first run of the game, in the first, with a single that allowed Nick Ciraolo to score. Ciraolo, who stole second to move into scoring position, reached safely on a two-out fielder’s choice.

Mike O’Brien lays a bunt down the third-base line during the baseball team’s 5-2 victory over Williamsville North on May 8. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Mike O’Brien lays a bunt down the third-base line during the baseball team’s 5-2 victory over Williamsville North on May 8. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence closed out its scoring with two runs in the second. Ciraolo and Arroyave-Mullen each singled prior to O’Brien’s sacrifice fly and Jack Putney’s single, both of which drove in a run.

It was a solid end to a week that started out in spectacular fashion on May 8, as the Red Devils and Williamsville North battled for 10 innings for Clarence pulled away for a 5-2 victory.

The Red Devils drew Spartans ace Josh Surowiec, which coach Dave Smith said “we were excited about,” and Clarence wasted little time manufacturing single runs in the first two innings to craft an early 2-0 lead. Lorenz’s single allowed Tyler White to score in the first inning, while Nick Messineo — who was pinch running for Dave Solazzo — scored on a passed ball in the second inning.

“It was nice to get that run in the first inning to show that we could score off Surowiec,” Smith said. “And Dave did a nice job coming around to score in the second inning. It’s a good thing he did too, because we didn’t score again after that until the 10th.”

Lorenz, who pitched the first six innings, didn’t allow any runs until the fifth and sixth. Ciraolo entered the game with one out in the sixth and was lights out from the mound the rest of the way, though the Spartans still managed to get runners on every inning the rest of the way — just as they did in the first six frames of the contest.

Clarence, which had runners on in every inning but two, finally ended the game when Arroyave Mullen scored what would be the game winner on a single by Bennett Cavaretta. O’Brien followed up with a run-scoring double before White drew a bases-loaded walk to conclude the scoring. The Red Devils also made a defensive gem in the bottom of the 10th to secure the victory, turning a double play from O’Brien in left field to White at second.

“That North game was just a really good baseball game,” Smith said. “If we play them 10 times, each team is going to win five times. I really think both teams should have a shot at doing some damage in the playoffs.”

Lancaster, another team looking primed to wreak havoc in the Class AA bracket, served up the week’s only loss two days later to prevent Clarence from vying for at least a portion of the regular-season title, 10-1. The long ball was working for the Legends on Wednesday, as a two-run blast in the first inning and a pair of solo shots in the second had Lancaster out front by a 5-0 count barely 20 minutes into the game.

“Lancaster is just really, really good, and we got dominated,” Smith said. “Their pitching dominated us and their defense was great. They’ve got to be the favorite to win the AA title, no question about it.”

Another team with legitimate chances to be in the mix, Orchard Park, gave Clarence a run for its money before ultimately dropping a 10-8 decision to the Red Devils. Clarence found itself staring down another significant deficit early against the Quakers, but unlike the previous day was able to battle back behind a seven-inning top of the sixth that was the Red Devils’ best single-inning offensive output of the year.

Arroyave-Mullen and Lorenz each had two-run singles during that decisive frame, while White and O’Brien also added run-scoring singles. Ciraolo — who picked up the save with his efforts in the final two innings — also secured a bases-loaded walk to account for the other run. Cavaretta, meanwhile, had a two-run single in the top of the fourth to pull Clarence within three runs at the time, 6-3.

Croff, who pitched the final two outs of the fifth inning, was awarded the win, while Jared Shalke was given a no decision for his efforts over the first 41/3 innings.

Thursday’s effort helped push Clarence to its 7-3 win over Timon in this year’s annual Baseball Night in Clarence game. Arroyave Mullen picked up the victory on the mound after taking over for Jack DiCostanzo, who pitched the first three innings. Caleb Valeri took down all three batters he faced in the seventh.

At the plate, Ciraolo had a two-run single in the third inning and an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth, while both Arroyave-Mullen and Di- Costanzo (2 runs) each hit tripled in the fourth inning. Lorenz also had a run-scoring double in the fourth for Clarence (14-5 overall), which closed out its regular season Tuesday against St. Francis in a game that ended too late for this edition.

Playoffs are scheduled to begin with the prequarterfinal round on Friday, though seeding for the Class AA bracket — which determined when Clarence’s postseason run would begin — was held Tuesday night, after The Bee had gone to press.

“I’m excited that we had a couple of come-from-behind wins this week and that we kept our composure in those situations,” Smith said. “We’ve gained a lot of experience in all different types of situations this season, and I’m hoping that pays off. Playoff games are filled with emotional swings, so if you can keep your composure, it gives you an edge.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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