NIAGARA FALLS — There was only one thing going through Williamsville South starter Damian Powers’ mind after he hit the game’s first two batters: “Just don’t hit the next one,” he laughed.
He didn’t. Powers settled down, went the complete game and led his Billies to the Section VI Class A championship.
No. 1 Williamsville South defeated No. 3 Hamburg, 9-1, on a warm afternoon at Sal Maglie Stadium.
“I was amped up a little bit, obviously,” said Powers, who had eight strikeouts and scattered five hits. “I had to relax myself, get back to my mechanics. I just did what I did and my teammates made great plays and we came out with the ‘W.’ ”
The Billies (17-2) advance to the Far West Regionals to play the Section V champion Tuesday in Batavia. Rochester-area schools Greece Arcadia and Pittsford-Sutherland will compete for the right to play Williamsville South.
The Billies thoroughly dominated the Bulldogs, but at the start of the game, South looked far from in control.
“I knew” Powers “would get better the longer he went into it,” South head coach Kraig Kurzanski said. “He was able to get his third pitch going, his change-up, and that keeps you off-balance.”
The 6-foot-4 flame-throwing senior Powers added a solid day at the plate, going 3 for 3 with an RBI. Junior outfielder Steve Zaprowski went 2 for 4 with three RBI.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when catcher David Edie slid home on a meticulously-executed double steal. The momentum seemed to be in underdog Hamburg’s favor, but South answered with four runs in the bottom of the frame and added a five-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth.
“We work really hard,” Kurzanski said. “Our kids work their butts off. I’m so proud of all the seniors. They all got in today, all got a piece of it, and now they all get a banner in the gym. It’ll be there forever for them.”
Williamsville South defeated Starpoint to advance to the championship game.
Hamburg starter Kyle Sickau gave up nine runs over four innings. Second baseman Cam Ringo pitched the final three innings. The Billies finished with 13 hits, which Kurzanski said was a tribute to his squad taking good hacks, working counts and getting on top of the curve ball.
At the end of the day, the championship trophy rested in the hands off the hurler who started off tumultuously.
“I’ve never had one before,” Powers said, glancing down at the trophy that he cradled like an infant. “I’ve had one in basketball, but I didn’t serve as big of a part in it. To do it with this team, it was just a hell of a year.”