Hillbillies survive scare from Panthers

Trent Thompson tossed five solid innings and Fredonia (16-0, 10-0) held on to beat Gowanda (8-6, 4-6), 5-4, during CCAA Division 1 baseball action on Wednesday.

The Panthers got close in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t complete the come back. Matt Kruszka led off with a single and scored after Weston Ley, who relieved Thompson, issued three straight walks.

Josh Mitchell scored on an error to cut the lead to 5-3, before Carter Benton scored on a double-play ball hit by Ryan Boutelle. Then, with the tying run on third, Ley got Walker Cygan swinging to end the game.

Thompson allowed an unearned run on three hits while striking out three and walking one.

“Trent started slow, he was challenged and he came through,” Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo said. “And that’s what we expect out of our senior. We need our starting pitchers to throw well to be successful.”

The win tied Fredonia’s previous school record for consecutive wins, a record that was set in 1985 when Gullo was a senior playing for Pete Criscione. The win also helped the Hillbillies, the No. 2 team in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association Class B poll, clinch a share of their third straight division title.

“A division title was a goal of ours,” Gullo said. “And we’re happy to win it three years in a row.”

The Hillbillies can win the title outright with a win at Allegany-Limestone on Friday.

The Panthers got on the board first as Jon McCarthy scored on a wild pitch, but the Hillbillies came right back. Nick Hart led off with a single and scored on a triple off the bat of Thompson. Ley followed with a single to give Fredonia a 2-1 lead, which they would not relinquish.

In the bottom of the third inning Hart reached on an error, moved to second on an error and third on a wild pitch, before scoring on a Thompson sacrifice fly. The Hillbillies then added a run in the fifth inning after Cody Smith tripled and scored on an RBI groundout from Hart and a run in the sixth after Jude Gardner singled home Zach Buckley, who reached on a 1-out triple.

Ley allowed three runs (two earned) on a hit while striking out four and walking three over two innings.

For Gowanda, Matt Kruszka suffered the loss, allowing five runs on six hits while walking one.