BATAVIA — Damian Powers celebrated his 18th birthday Tuesday night by leading Williamsville South to its second state championship appearance in school history.
Powers pitched a complete game two-hitter as the Billies beat V-Pittsford Sutherland, 6-1, in the Class A Far West Regional championship game in front of more than 400 people at Dwyer Stadium.
Williamsville South (18-2) will next play at 1 p.m. Saturday in the state semifinals at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton.
Powers, South’s 6-foot-4 senior ace, struck out nine batters in the win, the last one compelling him to throw his glove high in the sky while his teammates joined him for a mosh pit on the mound. With his right arm already wrapped in ice and Billies fans serenading him from the stands, Powers walked into the dugout to an cold water bath from his teammates.
“Best birthday present ever,” he said.
“Damian pitched great,” Billies coach Kraig Kurzanski said. “He’s given up just one run now through the playoffs. He dominates. He’s a three-year varsity player. When he walked in as a sophomore I knew he was something special. He loves the big moment. He throws strikes when he has to. His command was very good. He had all three pitches going tonight. A fastball, breaking ball and he had a good change-up that really fooled them.”
Powers had a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound. Steve Zaprowski (2 for 4, two runs, two steals, RBI) lead off the game with a single, stole second base and was driven home by Mike Calandra (2 for 4, two runs, RBI). Two batters later, Tyler Utz (2 for 4, RBI) knocked in Calandra.
Pittsford Sutherland (16-8) cut in to the lead in the fifth inning when Powers walked home Michael Pringle. With the bases loaded and no outs, Powers fielded a bunt and started a double play Kurzanski said was the key to the victory.
The Billies added four more runs in the seventh. Zaprowski singled in Brett Baker and scored on a base hit by Billy Hartford. Tyler Piasecki and Calandra then each scored on throwing errors.
“We run pretty well, most of our guys, and that speed put pressure on them,” Kurzanski said. “They are a well-coached team but they run a zillion pickoff plays, we know that and we’ve been working on that the last couple of days.”