Alex Weaver smacks second straight game-winning hit for Lockport
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Just like they drew it up, right?
“Baseball is a funny game,” summed up Lockport skipper Steve Styrzo after his No. 2-seeded baseball Lions out-lasted No. 10 Frontier, 4-3, Wednesday, in a Section VI Class AA quarterfinal contest at sunny, breezy Outwater Park.
“It was crazy. What inning was that?” said Lions’ senior first baseman Alex Weaver, moments after slugging his second straight game-winning hit — this time in the bottom of the marathon 10th inning, as Lockport advances to host No. 3 Lancaster at 5 p.m. Friday in a AA semifinal. The winner of that game will play for the sectional championship a week from today.
“It was nerve wracking out there, that’s for sure,” Weaver said. “It was tight the whole game and we didn’t know what to expect next. But we hung in there like we always do and knew that if we continued to play our best that we had a good chance of winning.”
The visiting Falcons (9-13) threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Lions, especially senior captain Brandon Jewett, who pitched a stellar 9-and-a-third innings. Jewett (5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 6 hits), finally gave way to Evan Johnston, who came in with one out and the bases loaded, surrendering Weaver’s game-winning hit, which drove in senior center fielder Will Diebel from third base.
While Jewett dominated on the hill early on, getting the Lions out 1-2-3 in each of the first three frames, Frontier had four, second-inning hits — including three infield singles — to take an early 2-0 lead.
“I think I was a little anxious out there early on,” said Lions’ junior starting pitcher Noah VanDenBosch (6 innings, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk). “After that I had things under control.”
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Lions managed their first hit off of Jewett, a single by Diebel, but he was picked off at first by Jewett. Lockport’s steady sophomore shortstop Tyler Fraas walked and junior third baseman Charlie Sobieraski followed with a hard grounder to second, but the Frontier infield managed to make a play at second only, as Sobieraski hustled to beat the throw to first, advancing to second on an overthrow.
VanDenBosch stroked a solid single to center, plating Sobieraski, then scored on another critical throwing error by Frontier shortstop Tom Stoklosa. Weaver then drove in the go-ahead run with a single, plating junior left fielder Brad Wroblewski, giving LHS a 3-2 lead.
Frontier tied it 3-3 in the top of the fifth. Falcons right fielder Jim Gleason (2-for-5, 2B) doubled and later scored on a base hit by Stoklosa.
Both Jewett and VanDenBosch, who was relieved by Sobieraski in the seventh (4 innings, 6 strikeouts, no walks, 3 hits) dueled it out after that. The Lions threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Weaver reached base on an error, was sacrificed over to second by junior second baseman Colin Dougherty and advanced to third on a passed ball, but Jewett fanned Diebel to get out of that jam and the game went into extra innings.
Sobieraski dominated on the hill in the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th frames, but the Lions couldn’t push a runner across either as the shadows started growing longer by the minute and the game dragged on.
But in the bottom of the 10th, the roadrunner Diebel stroked a lead-off single, stole second then raced to third on Fraas’ fly out to right field. That was it for Jewett, who was relieved by Johnston after intentional walks to Sobieraski and VanDenBosch loaded the bases with one out.
“That’s what a senior captain is supposed to do. Brandon pitched his butt off today. I’m proud how he handled himself. He just kept coming after them,” said Frontier manager Mike Morlock.
After Wroblewski flied out to third, Weaver followed with a two-out solid smash to the right side that bounced off of Falcons’ second baseman Mike O’Rourke. Weaver beat the throw and Diebel raced home with the winning run.
“Noah and Charlie did a great job for us,” Styrzo said. “With Casey (Domski) out with his ankle injury for two weeks, all three of our other pitchers knew that they might have to go today.”
Weaver finished 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while “Double D” David DiTullio also had a Lockport base hit.
“This was our best complete team victory of the season,” said Fraas, who finished with a single and three defensive assists, though it could easily have been five with two close plays at first going the other way.
“It wasn’t just one guy out there hitting the ball today or one guy making a play,” Fraas said. “Everyone hustled and the defense played well, without an error.”
VanDenBosch said the Lions are not unfamiliar with Lancaster. “We’ve scrimmaged them twice this season and we hung in there with them both times,” VanDenBosch said. “It should be a good game Friday. We need to come out and play hard like we know we can.”
Lancaster beat No. 6-Niagara-Wheatfield, 4-2, on Wednesday, in another AA quarterfinal, reported Lockport’s Mark Waple, the varsity baseball manager at Lewiston-Porter.
CLASS A QUARTERFINALS
4-Starpoint 16, 5-Hutch Tech 6
PENDLETON — After Starpoint’s starting pitcher was pulled after 1 1/3 innings with Hutch-Tech leading, 5-3, Chris Cribbs then took over and shut down the Engineers, allowing just one run on four hits with six strikeouts over the final 5 2/3 innings to help vault the No. 4-seeded Spartans past the No. 5 Engineers and into Friday’s 5 p.m. Section VI Class A semifinal at top-seeded Williamsville South.
“He did a great job in that type of situation,” Starpoint head coach Tim Racey said. “He came in and righted the ship when we needed it. Chris came in and saved the day for us.”
Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth, Brett Guay smashed a one-out RBI triple to right-center to tie the game up for the last time. Guay would score the eventual winning run on a double by Jim Janeczko.
Seven walks and a two-run single by O’Donnell closed out a nine-run Starpoint sixth.
O’Donnell, who had three walks, and Guay, three hits, led the Spartans with four RBIs each.
Reporter Aaron Garland contributed to this report.