By Sam Wilson
The Rowland brothers, junior Steven and freshman Clayton, marked six of Ellicottville’s eight hits and drove in seven runs, helping the Eagles’ baseball team finish the regular season on with a victory Wednesday, May 16.
Steven went 4-for-4 with a pair of two-run singles and Clayton was 2-for-4 with three RBI in a 10-7 non-league win over Randolph at St. Bonaventure’s Fred Handler Park, capping an 8-9 season before tonight’s Section 6 seeding meeting.
The Eagles took a 5-0 lead with just one hit in the first inning, thanks to four walks, an error and two hit batters, chasing starter Tommy Chapman for reliever Dakota Donaldson.
“We talk about getting the lead out every inning, which we didn’t do for the first three innings,” Randolph coach Nate Armella said of his team’s 7-0 deficit through three. “We walked I don’t know how many, we hit a couple batters, they only had one hit. Five runs off of one hit, that’s on us. That’s not anything they did, although give them credit, they played hard. It’s frustrating but we responded towards the middle of the game.”
Ellicottville starter Frank Neff took advantage of his team’s early lead, holding the Cardinals (6-10) scoreless through four innings before a four-run fifth, finishing with seven strikeouts and five walks with two hits over 5 ⅓ innings.
“The past couple games we left a lot of guys stranded,” Ellicottville coach Chris Mendell said. “Today we seemed to capitalize a little more.
“But I was really pleased with Frank Neff. He bounced back from his last performance. The way he threw today was really good. He gave us a chance to win.”
For Randolph (6-10), Isaac Hind went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Jake Brown doubled and drove in two runs, helping cut the lead to 8-6 by the top of the sixth.
“The way their guy (Neff) was throwing, we had to start getting on him to get him out of the game,” Armella said. “We did get a couple timely hits and he, fortunately for us, go a little bit wild and we were able to chase him. If he stays in that game, I don’t know if we get seven runs.”
Steven Rowland recorded the final five outs as the Eagles held on after Randolph cut the lead to 8-6 in the top of the fifth.
“He’s hit the ball well all year, Mendell said. “He’s been one of our top hitters and he hasn’t pitched a lot but he has pitched some. We needed somebody to come in and throw strikes and he did exactly what we wanted.”
Mendell said the Eagles’ record, just under .500 and 4-6 in CCAA East II as the Class D playoffs approach, speaks to the competitiveness of their league.
“With the exception of maybe one or two games, we’ve been in every game up until the fifth, sixth inning,” he said. “Our league is very competitive is the deal. Anybody can beat anybody in our league and that’s part of it. There’s no easy games. You’ve got to dig and claw for everything you get. So overall I’m pleased. Would I like to be .500? Yeah, but the kids are playing hard, as a coach you ask them to play hard and they certainly do that.”
Likewise, Armella cited his team’s number of close games to consider this a strong season for the Cardinals going into the Class C playoffs.
“We have a 6-10 record and we could easily be 10-6,” Armella said. “It’s just a few things here and there, timely hits, a couple mistakes in the field. But overall this has been by far the best team I’ve had and they’re fun to be around, they play hard. I wouldn’t count us out.”
Mendell said he tries to schedule a game at Bona or at Jamestown’s Diethrick Park at least once a year. For Armella, it was the Cardinals first trip to Bona in four years.
“For these guys, they’ve never been here,” Armella said. “There was a two, three-year stretch where we were here every year. For these guys, we pulled up on the bus and they’re like ‘Oh my God, this thing’s beautiful,’ and they get down here and you let them run around a little bit to soak it in. But this is a beautiful complex. It’s awesome that they let us play here.”
Sherman 11, Ellicottville 1
ELLICOTTVILLE — Austin Freligh drove in four runs, hitting 2-for-4 with a double to lead Sherman’s offense in a road playoff win Saturday.
Derek Sears went 3-for-3 with three RBI and Mike Beatman was 2-for-4 with an RBI double for the No. 9 Wildcats. Caleb Burick and Beatman combined for a two-hitter, with Beatman striking out the side to close the seventh inning.
Steven Rowland had both hits for Ellicottville and struck out eight batters with three walks over five innings. The No. 8 Eagles (8-10) had just nine players available for the game due to a senior trip.