Fredonia rallies past Akron for Class B-2 title
JAMESTOWN – For the sixth time in nine years, the Fredonia Hillbillies were crowned Class B Sectional champions Wednesday.
And though it wasn’t pretty, a win is a win.
The No. 1 Hillbillies took advantage of four Tigers’ errors in a 6-2 victory at Russell E. Diethrick Park.
“We dodged a bullet today,” Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said with a sigh of relief. “They gave us all we could handle. We held a good team to a couple runs. Our defensive was phenomenal.”
Fredonia made several web gems in the field and its stellar defense shined again Wednesday as it has only made one error in three playoff games.
Jude Gardner made the first phenomenal defensive play on the first pitch of the game as Akron’s Zack Fentner hit a gap shot to left field. Gardner charged in on the ball and made a sensational diving catch.
In the fourth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out. Trevor Fostor hit a line drive down the first base line, but Fredonia’s Chris Saden made a diving snag and then dove to first base to tag up Noah Diegel for an unassisted, inning-ending double play.
“That saved us,” Gullo said. “We were really reeling at that time. Weston (Ley) was throwing hard. For him to make that play was a momentum saver and that saved us.”
The Hillbillies got their first run in the first inning as Nick Hart walked, advanced to third on an error and scored on Gardner’s sacrifice fly.
The score remained 1-0 until the fifth inning when Akron put two runs on the board following two straight walks and two singles.
With runners on second and third, Ley was able to strike out the heart of Akron’s order to escape the jam.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning and could manage just two runs.
“We couldn’t come up with a clutch hit when we needed,” Akron coach Greg Bell said. “We couldn’t get a bunt down. My 3-4-5 hitters go down looking. Kudos to Fredonia. They made some great defensive plays and clutch hits late.”
After Akron scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Hillbillies responded with four runs in the bottom half. Ley and Buckley led off with consecutive base hits and Gardner reached on an error to load the bases. Cameron Voss hit an RBI sacrifice fly to plate Ley. Buckley crossed home plate on pinch-hitter Seb McAfee’s RBI single. Gardner scored on an error and Matt Sheridan scored when Cody Smith reached on an error to make the score 5-2.
“We’ve had timely hits,” Gullo said. “Seb McAfee scored and got a big RBI. Voss had a couple RBIs. Guys came through when we had to. We didn’t lose an inning.”
Fredonia tacked on an insurance run in the sixth as Buckley led off with a blast to deep left field which hoped once before hitting the ball roughly 330 feet from home plate, Buckley scored on an RBI single from Voss for the 6-2 victory.
“We have made one error in the playoffs and that’s what championship teams do and that’s a positive,” Gullo said. “We live to fight another day. We need games like this from time to time. We been in these situations before. We came through and we have a bunch of winners on the team. We can take a deep breath now. Everything after this is gravy.”
Notes: Nick Hart finished the game 2 for 2 with two walks. Buckley had two hits with a double and reached on a walk to score two runs. Fredonia plays the winner of Tonawanda vs. Springville on Friday. The site of that game has yet to be determined.