Billies clinch at least a share of division crown

Cam Voss continued his mastery over anyone who steps in the batters box against him, as the junior southpaw lifted Fredonia to a 9-1 win over CCAA West I foe Southwestern Friday, helping the Hillbillies sew up at least a share of their fourth-straight league title in the process.

“The (game) got a little out of hand and he just went in there and threw strikes,” Gullo said of Voss. “Once he relaxes out there, he’s so hard to hit. It’s hard to pick up that ball, so the last few innings went faster than the first few.”

Voss struggled with his command early as he battled a strong wind and driving rain, but once the weather cleared up, he began to roll through the Trojans’ lineup, as he allowed a run on two hits, struck out 11, walked five and carried a no-hitter into the fourth.

“We missed a couple (opportunities to score),” Southwestern coach Darin Beckerink said. “And you can’t miss opportunities against guys like (Cam) and teams like (Fredonia). They’re a good team and you just can’t miss those opportunities.”

On the other hand, Fredonia’s offense had little trouble with Southwestern pitching.

In the first inning, the Hillbillies scored three runs – all with two outs – as Mike Pucci had the big hit with a single that chased home Jared Burmaster and Cody Smith.

“When he hits the ball, he gets our lineup rolling through,” Gullo said of Pucci. “He always seems to be coming up in big situations with men on base and to get those RBIs early, gets us off on the right foot.”

Matt Sheridan, who singled ahead of Pucci, scored Fredonia’s third run of the inning on a wild pitch.

“This is a good team win, a lot of guys contributed,” Gullo said. “It’s always nice and it’s a little reminiscent of last year getting (a lead) early and we had a stud pitcher on the mound. It takes a little out of the other team.”

On the day, the Hillbillies scored in every inning but the second and sixth while the Trojans’ lone run came in the top of the second. Voss walked Erik Priester and Ryan Pascarella to start the inning, then unleashed a pair of wild pitches that eventually brought home Priester.

“He’s gotten like that over the last three years,” Gullo said of Voss. “He loses it for an inning and tries to figure out what it is (that went wrong). It’s funny being a junior with all the success he’s had, because we’re a little more patient with him that he’ll figure it out. And he figured it out. The weather was terrible and he corrected his mistakes and he did his job.”

Pucci added another RBI single in the bottom of the third for one of the Hillbillies’ two runs in the inning while Burmaster had an RBI single in the fourth and Sheridan brought home another run on a groundout. Burmaster scored Fredonia’s second run of the inning on a passed ball, as the home team built an 8-1 lead.

“To be truthful, no,” Beckerink said when asked if Friday’s loss was the type of game his team could learn from. “You just go back and regroup and come back the next day and do what you can do. There’s not a whole lot to learn here.”

In the fifth inning, Ley’s RBI double to right-center field chased home Tyler DiRusso with the Hillbillies’ final run of the game. Ley finished the day 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. He’s now 23 for 33 (.697) in CCAA?West I play.

“I hear the other coaches talk about where they’re positioning their defense and how they’re trying to get him out, but he’s one of the best hitters I’ve seen in my 13 years (as head coach),” Gullo said of Ley. “And the stats back it up. Every at-bat and every swing, he’s on.”

The Hillbillies can wrap up sole possession of the division with a win over Silver Creek on Tuesday, but Gullo and his players know there is still plenty more to work for this season.

“Our division isn’t the same without Gowanda and Olean in here,” Gullo said. “At the end of the year, it’s something nice to look back on and say we were division champs, but we always look to win a little larger trophy. And we want to instill that confidence in these players that this is what we expect. They know there is absolutely still more work to be done.”

Corey Bryerton took the loss on the hill for the Trojans, as he worked the first three innings, allowed five runs on five hits and walked four.

“(Bryerton) walked some kids and they scored (three) runs,” Beckerink said of Fredonia’s first trip to the plate. “I don’t even know what it was. Three runs on one or two hits? That’s a killer right there. You just can’t start off against a team (giving up) three runs on one hit, or whatever it was, in the first inning.”

Noah Weinstein pitched the fourth inning and allowed three unearned runs on two hits while walking two, before giving way to Jared Drocy, who finished up. Drocy allowed a run on five hits while striking out two and walking one.

NOTES: Burmaster finished 2 for 3 with an RBI, two runs and a stolen base … Ben Burk had the Trojans’ only other hit of the day, a single in the sixth. He was called out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double.