We're live at Niagara Falls' Hyde Park, home of Sal Maglie Stadium, site of three Section VI baseball championship games this week.
Today it is a great matchup between top-seeded Clarence and No. 2 seed and ECIC I rival Orchard Park in the Class AA final at 4:30 p.m. We'll keep track of the action, inning-by-inning.
4:46 p.m. Clarence standout junior pitcher Zach Lauricella pitched a perfect top of the first, striking out two with a weak fly to left sandwiched between them.
4:54 p.m. Clarence threatened in the bottom of the first as it had first and second with one out, but did not score. Leadoff batter Adam Urschel hit a line drive off of the OP pitcher; the third basemen picked the ball up and threw him out on a nice play although it appeared that Urschel beat the throw.
5:03 p.m. This time OP gets on, but we're still scoreless after the top of the second. Paul Leavell and Jimmy Fitzgerald had back-to-back singles after one was out, but Lauricella got a foul pop up by Bryan Lang and struck out Scott Tatay looking for the third out.
5:35 p.m. My apologies for some technical difficulties.
Clarence has a 4-0 lead after three innings thanks to a four-run second. Ben Smith drew a bases-loaded walk, Urschel followed with a sharp two-run single up the middle and, after a strikeout and an intentional walk to Lauricella, Andrew Lawrence dinked into an RBI single into left field.
OP got a single from Dave Crowley in the top of the third but nothing else. Clarence got a leadoff single from Mark Armstrong in the bottom of the inning but nothing else.
5:43 p.m. OP gets on the board and Clarence leads, 4-1, in the middle of the fourth. Max Korzaniewski lined a single to left field to bring in A.J. Witkowski from third. Witkowski had led off with a walk, moved to second on a walk to Leavell and to third on a double play.
5:52 p.m. Clarence picks up another run to take a 5-1 lead after four. Matthew Grazen led off with a walk, moved to second on a single up the middle by Lauricella, then scored from second when the OP second basemen couldn't keep a tough ball in the infield off the bat of Lawrence.
6:03 p.m. Clarence kept its 5-1 lead after the top of the fifth thanks to a fantastic inning-ending double play. With the bases loaded, second basemen Mike Elwood handled a tough, hard hop just to the right of the bag and flipped to Urschel, who fired it on to first to a roar from the hundred or so on hand from Clarence.
6:12 p.m. Mark Armstrong led off the bottom of the fifth with a single for Clarence, but that was all and the Red Devils' lead remains 5-1.
6:19 p.m. Another inning-ending double play for Clarence to end a threat. Wow. With runners at the corners, Lauricella handled a comebacker by Scott Tatay and fired to shortstop Urschel at second, who went on to first.
That play was preceded by a fabulous defensive play by Ellwood, who came in on a slow roller and used just his glove to field and then flip to Urschel for a force play at second. Great play. Clarence still leads, 5-1.
6:29 p.m. Clarence added another two runs for a 7-1 lead after six. Grazen led off with a walk and scored on a triple by Lauricella, who bombed the ball over the right fielder's head to one-hop the wall. Lauricella later scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Matt Creenan.
6:39 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Clarence 7, Orchard Park 3.
OP's Dylan Baun had a two-run blast of a home run over the left field fence in the top of the seventh. Off to do interviews; we'll have more here later.
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Celebration time for Clarence as coach Dave Smith gets dunked after some nice Red Devils teamwork kept him distracted.
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Postgame reaction from Clarence:
Elwood was one of the most important players in the game -- even though he was the player who was replaced in the lineup for a designated hitter.
"It just gives me a better chance to focus on my defense," he said. "It feels great [to contribute]. We won the championship and that's all that counts."
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Orchard Park coach Jim Gibson:
"We had our opportunities -- we actually outhit them [9 to 8], but we didn't do it with men on base. We hit into three double plays, all with chances to score runs. I thought we shot ourselves in the foot and I thought there were a few questionable calls that hurt us. Clarence is a good team -- they take advantage of your mistakes."
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Here's my story.
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