Clarence, OP to meet
Jim Gibson was asked if he was looking forward to playing rival Clarence in the Section VI Class AA baseball semifinals on Friday. Before answering, the Orchard Park coach asked, “Did Armstrong pitch today?”
Indeed, teams must keep an eye on Mark Armstrong and the top-seeded Red Devils, who handled Kenmore West on Wednesday, 6-1. And, no, the Pittsbugh-bound Armstrong didn’t pitch as Mark Materise notched the win in a five-strikeout performance proving the Red Devils have plenty in their arsenal.
But Orchard Park, which defeated Niagara Falls on Wednesday, 7-2, isn’t a pushover. Although the Quakers dropped both regular-season matchups against their ECIC I foe, they were closely contested. OP lost the first game, 4-3, and 8-5 in the second meeting.
“They’re No. 1 and considered one of the finest teams in Western New York for a reason,” Gibson said. “All you can ask for is an opportunity to play and we have that now.”
Jeff Palczewski had two hits including a two-run homer for OP, which received a strong performance from winning pitcher Andy Sipowicz.
Elsewhere in Class AA, Lockport beat Frontier, 4-3, in 10 innings on a walk-off RBI by Alex Weaver.
The Lions started the 10th with a hit and a stolen base, then the eventual winning run advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. Frontier intentionally walked two to load the bases and forced Lockport to pop out to the first baseman in foul territory for the second out.
That’s when Weaver, who went 4 for 5 on the day, hit a one-hopper into the outfield.
“They are a good team with good pitching and are very well coached,” Lockport coach Steve Styrzo said. “We had chances early to make the ending not so dramatic, but baseball is a funny, funny game.”
Meanwhile, in Class C, da Vinci pulled off another surprise.
Joe Denecke fired a complete game with eight strikeouts and helped his cause by going 3 for 4 at the plate as da Vinci stunned Maple Grove, 8-2, to advance to the semifinal round.
After losing to Hutch-Tech in the opening round of the Cornell Cup, da Vinci wasn’t expected to be much of a factor in Class C but they knocked off Silver Creek in the prequarterfinals before defeating Maple Grove.
“The program is only eight years old and we’ve come a long way,” coach John Barberio said. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
Pat Coyle added two hits and an RBI, while Chris Ferril hit a two-run double for da Vinci.
Flames bounce rivals
In girls lacrosse, Williamsville East downed rival Will South, 8-7, in the Class B quarterfinals.
The Flames’ Grace Curatolo scored three goals, while Brooke Melynk and Kara Marzo added two and goalkeeper Julianna Panepinto finished with 18 saves.
In Class D softball, North Collins blanked Clymer, 4-0, as Jessica Lawton tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts.