For the second straight game, Fredonia (20-2) received a dominant playoff pitching performance.
On Tuesday it was sophomore southpaw Cameron Voss, on Friday it was Trent Thompson, as the senior allowed no runs and just three hits over six innings of work in the No. 2 Hillbillies’ 9-0 Section 6 Class B-2 semifinal baseball win over No. 3 JFK.
“Trent’s getting better and better,” Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo said. “This is when we want him peaking. Just him standing on the mound in the top of the first inning throwing strikes, everybody goes, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be on today.’ And that just makes everything easier.”
Thompson was on from the first batter he faced to the last as he struck out six and walked two. He allowed one runner to third base and two to second.
“I read the local paper and I know Thompson doesn’t walk a lot of guys,” JFK head coach Casey Snyder said. “So I told them, ‘If you like the first pitch, you’d better be swinging. We’re not going to get behind in the count against a good pitcher.’ That’s always my philosophy.”
“He’s got some pop on his fastball and he’s been 100 percent for some time,” Gullo added. “He knows he’s our number one (pitcher) and that’s with a good 2 and 2A behind him.”
Fredonia, which had little success against JFK starting pitcher Eric Cartenuto when the two schools met earlier this season, scored a run in every inning except the fifth.
“One inning the curveball was hanging and the next inning the changeup would be up,” Snyder said. “I just couldn’t figure out which offspeed (pitch) to call, because one inning one worked and the other inning it didn’t.”
Weston Ley had an RBI single in the first while Cody Smith delivered an RBI single in the second and Chris Saden, who beat out a two-strike bunt single earlier in the frame, scored on an error for a 3-0 lead.
“That was his job to get that bunt down,” Gullo said of Saden. “And it surprised everybody and it was perfectly placed. That’s execution and the bottom of our order did their job today. They kept rolling that lineup straight through and the scored as many runs as the top (of the order).”
Ley led off the fourth with a walk and scored on a Voss single for a 4-0 lead.
The bottom of the Hillbillies’ lineup was the difference Friday as the six through nine hitters – Voss, Sebastian McAfee, Saden and Smith – went a combined 6 for 12 with five RBIs and four runs scored.
“We love Cody there,” Gullo of his No. 9 hitter, who finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs. “He’s no nonsense, he puts the bat on the ball, he can hit the curveball, he can hit the fastball, he’s got speed to steal bases and he can lay down bunts. We’ve always had strong No. 9 hitters here at Fredonia. He could easily be at the top of the order, but he sacrifices and is at the bottom of the order. But he relishes that roll and he does his job.”
The Hillbillies took the momentum and put the game away in the fifth when Zach Buckley led off with a single and scored on a Jude Gardner triple. Voss followed with his second run-scoring single before Smith added his second RBI single. Nick Hart chased home a run with an RBI groundout for an 8-0 lead.
Fredonia’s final run came in the sixth after Voss connected on his third RBI single.
“Against Gowanda, my pitchers didn’t strike out one guy,” Snyder said. “We had 21 plays we made in the field with one error and no walks. (We allowed) one free pass and (Friday) we gave about 10 free passes. And that’s the difference. In high school baseball if you don’t walk guys and you don’t make errors, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Cartenuto finished allowing nine runs (six earned) on 13 hits while striking out two and walking three.
The Hillbillies will look to win their third straight Sectional title when they take on No. 4 Akron next Wednesday.
NOTES: Voss finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored … Hart had a pair of hits a run scored and an RBI … Buckley finished with two hits and two runs scored … Gardner had two hits, two runs scored and an RBI … Ley pitched the top of the seventh and struck out two.