There were at least a half dozen professional baseball scouts on hand to watch Mark Armstrong pitch Friday. The Clarence senior put on quite the show for them in helping the Red Devils reach the Section VI Class AA final with a 1-0 victory over visiting Orchard Park.
Armstrong struck out 11, yielded just one hit and hit one batter during a complete-game, 87-pitch effort against a Quakers crew that usually has no trouble stringing together hits.
OP scored seven runs in a quarterfinal win over Niagara Falls and in earlier meetings this season with Clarence dropped 4-3 and 8-5 decisions. Armstrong beat them in the first meeting, yielding just three hits.
“You know at some point if you’re going to make a sectional run you’ve got to beat Orchard Park,” Clarence coach Dave Smith said. “We knew it was going to be a tight game. Mark had some good stuff. ... The bottom line is they’re a good hitting team. We were fortunate to hold them down because they can score a lot of runs.”
Clarence scored its run in the fourth. Matt Nawrot led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Alex McGlue and scored on Chris Ossa’s sacrifice fly. Nawrot finished 2 for 3 with two doubles.
Orchard Park’s Patrick Sheehan yielded just four hits, walked one and hit one batter in 5∏ innings of work.
Clarence will face Lancaster in Thursday’s final. The Redskins, who split the regular-season meetings with the Red Devils, earned a shot at defending their sectional title by blanking Lockport, 3-0, behind Joe Preziuso’s complete-game five-hitter. He struck out nine and scored what proved to be the winning run in the second. He scored from third on an errant pickoff throw to first base.
Lancaster scored twice in the fifth as Ryan Bonafede led off with a double and scored when the throw to third base during a steal attempt on a dropped third strike sailed into the outfield. Ted Wilson’s sacrifice fly plated Max Garby with the other run. Ben Haefner went 2 for 3.
Class A: Pat Stasiak put the finishing touches on a 3-for-4 day as his single in the bottom of the eighth plated Damion Powers with the winning run as Williamsville South reached the final with a 3-2 win over Starpoint.
Brett Ross drove in three runs and scored twice during a 3-for-4 day and Justin LaRosa went 3 for 4 with two RBIs as Hamburg beat defending champion Grand Island, 9-7.
Class B-1: Ben Stich stole home, while Jared Zellner struck out 10 and yielded one hit in five innings as Tonawanda beat East Aurora, 3-2. The Warriors will face upstart Springville in the final. Springville (8-12) earned a shot at the title by beating Albion, 13-7, as Tyler Conklin drove in three runs for the Griffins.
Class B-2: Fredonia moved to the final with a 9-0 rout of JFK behind a combined three-hitter by pitchers Trent Thompson and Weston Lee. Fredonia will face Akron, trying to win a sectional title for the first time since 1974, in the final. The Tigers beat Wilson, 4-2, as Austin Meitz had two hits and Tommy James struck out six in 5∑ innings.
Class C: Westfield won its 16th in a row and ended da Vinci’s playoff run with a 9-2 win. Westfield (17-1) finished with 14 hits led by Nolan Hunt’s 3-for-5 bat with four RBIsCam Wright’s homer sparked a four-run sixth for Westfield.
Don’t be fooled by the final score. Defending state Class AA champion Clarence had to bounce back twice en route to a 7-3 quarterfinal win over Orchard Park.
OP took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but the Red Devils tied things in the bottom half via an RBI double from Moriah Harris and sacrifice fly by Jill Horvath. The Quakers took a 3-2 lead in the third but the hosts scored twice in their half of the inning to take the lead for good. Winning pitcher Katrina Buczkowski and Katie Maloney hit run-scoring singles in the inning. Maloney knocked in another run with a single in the fourth.
Morgan Ziemba went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer and two runs scored, and Bre Opera earned the win, helping her own cause with a two-run homer as Lancaster routed Williamsville North, 12-4.
Bre Krawczyk’s walk-off double carried Niagara-Wheatfield to a 5-4 win over Kenmore West.
Class B-1 semifinals: Jill Murray made sure Eden earned a shot at the title. She belted a two-run homer in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 3, she factored into the winning run scoring in the seventh as her single to right field was misplayed enabling the go-ahead run to score, then put down Newfane in order in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save in a 4-3 triumph.
Class A-1 semifinals: Bridget Hogan carried a perfect game into the seventh, finishing with a complete-game two-hitter with eight strikeouts and also went 1 for 2 as defending champion Hamburg advanced with a 3-1 win over Williamsville South.