Ley celebrates turning 18 by leading Fredonia to win

Weston Ley celebrated his 18th birthday in style Tuesday, as he tossed a complete game and went 3 for 5 at the plate, helping Fredonia (10-2, 7-0) to a 12-5 win over CCAA West I baseball foe Maple Grove (6-8, 3-5).

“The first thing is, we got a complete game out of him with a lot of pitches,” Fredonia assistant coach Charlie LaDuca said. “He threw a little over 100 pitches, which was good. He’s struggled to do that in the past and that was big for us (Tuesday).”

Ley allowed five runs – three earned – on six hits while striking out 12 and walking four.

“His endurance was impressive,” LaDuca said. “He was still throwing hard right at the end and he was throwing his curveball for strikes. It was definitely his best outing of the year.”

At the plate, Ley chipped in a double amongst his three hits and finished the day with two RBIs and three runs scored.

“He’s a good kid and he’s a big piece of the puzzle,” LaDuca said.

“His hitting has just been insane this year. At one point (Tuesday), he was 9 for 10, including the Dunkirk game (Monday). He’s hitting the ball great and he’s been a big leader for us. That’s what we need.”

After Ley retired the Red Dragons in order to start the game, he led off the Hillbillies’ half of the first with a single. Jared Burmaster was hit by a pitch to put two runners on for Cam Voss, who drove home Ley with a single. An error on a ground ball off the bat of Matt Sheridan two batters later allowed Burmaster and Voss to score for a 3-0 lead.

But the Red Dragons did not seem to be intimidated by the defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B champs, as they scored four runs in their half of the second to take a 4-3 lead.

“It was a tough inning,” LaDuca said. “He didn’t really do anything wrong, (Maple Grove) just put the ball in play. But he was able to come back from that.”

Ley got Nolan Knipe swinging to start the second, but a catcher’s interference call on Cody Smith sent Gram Nelson to first, before Ley got Brandon Reagle looking for the second out. Then, Maple Grove went to work, as Kass Howard, Trevor Micek, Zach Hammond, Jonah Tanner and Collin Stack all singled before Ley struck out Corey Wefing to end the inning.

“It’s great to see,” Maple Grove coach Jordan Rambacher said. “As a coach, you always hope to see the bottom of your lineup (produce). I did some shuffling of the lineup (Tuesday) – just tried some new things – and I think it turned out good.”

Not to be outdone, however, the Hillbillies plated two runs of their own in the bottom of the second to take a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the afternoon. Cam Voss drove in Ley with a sacrifice fly and Smith chased home Jared Burmaster with an RBI double.

Ley ran into trouble again in the top of the fourth after issuing three walks to load the bases, but got out of trouble and didn’t allow another run until the top of the seventh when Nelson scored Tanner on a ground out.

“Weston did a real nice job pitching,” Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo said. “He hasn’t got a lot of work this year, but he shook off the rust in the second inning and went the distance.”

“Any good team finds a way to get that good hit, that timely hit,” Rambacher added. “We just couldn’t find it (Tuesday).”

Fredonia increased its lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Smith, before putting the game out of reach in the fifth, when Ley, Cam Voss and Smith had run-scoring singles.

“Our top of the order banged out 10 hits and they had 11 RBIs,” Gullo said. “They are the guys we expect to contribute this season. And it was nice to see some quality pitching.”

The Hillbillies scored their final two runs in the sixth on a Lucas Voss bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ley.

Wefing suffered the loss on the hill for Maple Grove after going the first three innings and allowing six runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out three, walking one and hitting two batters.

“Corey was hitting his spots early on,” Rambacher said. “I told him he was on a tight leash, because we were, again, right with (Fredonia) for the first three or four innings.”

Fredonia is back in action today when it hosts Falconer in another CCAA West I contest.

“We’re going to see a good pitcher (today) against Falconer and I hope we come ready to play,” Gullo said.

NOTES: The Hillbillies finished the game with 14 hits … Smith finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs … Cam Voss was 2 for 4 with four RBIs … Burmaster reached base five times (two singles, two walks, hit by pitch) and scored four runs … Tanner had two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Red Dragons.