Two in a row
JAMESTOWN – Sophomore southpaw hurler Cameron Voss hasn’t lost a game in two years as a starting pitcher for the Fredonia Hillbillies.
On Friday in the Section 6 Class B overall championship game, Voss continued his dominance as he willed the No. 2 Hillbillies to a 3-1 victory over No. 1 Tonawanda – the Class B-1 champs – at Russell E. Diethrick Park for a return trip to the Far West Regionals.
Voss pitched a complete game, allowed just three hits and five walks with nine strikeouts.
“What a super job he did, Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. “What Can I say? He picked us up. That last inning, I don’t know how much he had. I can’t say enough about Cam and his composure out there. Coach (Charlie) LaDuca has been working with him all year. For a sophomore to get out there, for a lefty, he is hard to hit. The angle he throws, when he throws strikes, he is unbeatable.”
Throughout the postseason, the Hillbillies have allowed just three runs in four playoff games. And a key reason has been the pitching of Voss, Weston Ley and Trent Thompson, along with stellar defense.
“Championship teams win playoffs with pitching and defense,” Gullo said. “The defense almost let us down (with two errors), but they came through in the end.”
And while the offense has been stumbling as of late, a big two-run double by Zach Buckley proved to be all Voss would need.
After loading the bases in the second inning and not getting a run, Fredonia opened the scoring in the third as Nick Hart and Ley drew walks and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Then, Buckley, who was nominated as the school’s best athlete earlier in the day, came through with his second double in as many games to give Fredonia a 2-0 lead.
“He crushed that,” Gullo said of Buckley’s hit. “We needed that. That’s been a long time coming for the middle of the order. We need him swinging the bat and that was a great clutch hit. He is really on right now.”
Buckley eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Voss for a 3-0 advantage.
Fredonia had a chance to add to its lead in the fourth inning as it loaded the bases with one out, however, Tonawanda pitcher Jared Zellner got a strikeout and a flyout to end the threat.
“Our bats aren’t there right now,” Gullo said. “We are trying to hit the ball 400 feet. We squandered some opportunities. Eleven runners were left on base, but we hung together. We stuck together and made the plays on defense. That’s a great team effort.”
The Warrior’s lone run came in the fifth inning when Tim Bernard reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a bases-loaded walk.
Tonawanda put a runner on second base in the final inning, which represented the only true threat it had the rest of the way.
With the win, Fredonia advances to the Far West Regionals for a second straight year. This year’s game will be played at Russell E. Diethrick Park against a Section 5 opponent.
“We have had a lot of pressure on us all year, right from the get go,” Gullo said. “We had so many guys contribute (Friday). The hardest thing to do in sports is when you’re expected to win, you have to win. We have had good competition all year. The guys hung together. We have won games and we are playing great ball. It’s good to know the pitching and defense is there because the hitting is capable. We are capable hitters. It’s a nice feeling. It really is. To get back there, win or lose, we showed we are capable and we are a strong team and now we have a chance to go back. We felt shorted last year. Now we don’t have anybody to blame except us.”
Notes: … Hart also doubled for the Hillbillies while Thompson reached base three times via walk … Ley reached base as he was walked and hit by a pitch … Jude Gardner had two singles and was hit by a pitch and No. 9 hitter Cody Smith reached base twice as well, as he was walked and hit by a pitch … In all, losing pitcher Zellner walked six and hit four batters.