The glow of being a high school graduate lasted about one day for Mark Armstrong and Jonah Heim.
Both quickly left one stage for another and are now professional baseball players with their respective big league teams.
Armstrong was taken in the third round by the Cincinnati Reds while Heim was a fourth-rounder by the Baltimore Orioles. They have something else in common as both were named to the 42nd All-Western New York team, chosen by local coaches.
Armstrong, whose right arm carried Clarence to the New York State Class AA finals, was named the WNY Player of the Year. He’s currently working out with other Reds rookies at their extended spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.
“Just being on top, playing for a state championship, this was one of the most memorable seasons I’ve ever played,” Armstrong said. “Getting drafted while I was with the guys is one tremendous feeling I’ll never forget.”
Heim, a switch-hitting catcher for Amherst, flew in late June to Sarasota, Fla., where he will play for the Orioles rookie team in the Gulf Coast League.
Conley batted .542 from the left side and homered in his last at-bat as an Eagle. He was lauded by his coach, Bob Kowal, for being the most unselfish player he’s coached in 27 years. His 18 career home runs are a school record and his 133 hits are second all-time at Lake Shore.
Fredonia wins state title
Having two players taken in baseball’s amateur draft was one of many highlights this spring. Section VI had four teams reach the state final four, three advance to the title games and one, Fredonia, bring home a title. The Hillbillies also won the title in 2006.
Fredonia was able to seal the deal by beating Clinton of Section III, 7-0. They are represented on All-WNY by senior outfielder Nick Hart. Fredonia’s final 25-2 mark included a school record 17-game winning streak.
“They had one goal and that was to win a state title,” said coach Vince Gullo, who returned seven starters. “They started talking about it just after we got beat in the Far West Regionals last year. This group of seniors was dedicated, they were super athletes and they accepted all the underclassmen on the team as family.”
Clarence (Class AA) and Williamsville South (Class A) were eliminated in state championship games while Pine Valley lost in the Class D state semifinals. The Panthers have won six out of the last seven sectional titles.
South right-hander Damian Powers was the ECIC III Player of the Year with a no-hitter against Hamburg. He allowed just three earned runs in 28 playoff innings. Opponents hit .178 against him.
St. Joe’s landed two All-WNY picks after winning back-to-back Georgetown Cups. Baldinelli is a slick infielder who is taking his glove to St. Bonaventure. He had a game-saving play defensively in a 1-0 win over St. Francis in the playoff semifinals. Baldinelli was 65 of 66 in stolen bases in his career.
Junior outfielder Philip Wells was the Monsignor Martin Association’s Offensive Player of the Year, batting .463. The Marauders swept rival Canisius, 2-0, in their best-of-three series to win the title at Coca-Cola Field.
Clarence (large schools) and Fredonia (small) were champions of the WNY Coaches polls.