Notre Dame’s pitching grounds Eagles

JAMESTOWN – The North Collins Eagles ran into a buzzsaw at Saturday’s Class D Far West Regional and only managed one hit while falling to the Batavia Notre Dame Irish, 9-2, at Russell E. Diethrick Park.

Irish pitcher Alec Covel dominated from the first inning on, and finished with 11 strikeouts in the complete game, one-hit victory.

“We gutted out two runs with only one hit,” North Collins coach Paul Kellner said. “I don’t know how many times we struck out, but it certainly was a lot. Alec threw a fantastic ballgame. It was probably the most velocity we saw all year and he followed it up with a breaking ball that he could throw for strikes consistently. It was a tough battle for us.”

Covel, who has committed to the Division II Mansfield Mountaineers of Pennsylvania, struck out the side in the first inning and fanned eight of the first nine batters he faced.

“Like I said, we haven’t seen velocity like that all season. We have seen close in the playoffs, but not quite,” Kellner said. “He was dominating. We couldn’t even put the ball in play; it was that fast.”

Despite his domination, the hard-throwing right hander got himself in a bit of trouble in the third inning with his team holding a 1-0 lead.

Covel hit Chris Pulinski with a pitch to begin the inning and walked Austin Winter to put runners on first and second with no outs.

A strikeout and flyout followed, but an infield error allowed both runners to score when an errant throw to first base got away from the Irish’s first baseman.

But from that point on it was sheer dominance by Covel. He surrendered the Eagle’s lone hit in the fifth before retiring the side 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory and send his team to Binghamton for the Class D Final Four, beginning June 14. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Broome Community College.

The Irish trailed 2-1 entering the fourth, but managed to tie the game when Cal Tygart walked and later came around to score on an RBI single by Michael Falitico.

Batavia Notre Dame added two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and blew the game open in the seventh by pushing across four more runs.

David Lynch took the loss for the Eagles. Lynch managed to hold the Irish in check for the majority of the game before Batavia Notre Dame figured him out and starting driving balls to the gaps.

Lynch finished with six-plus innings pitched, allowing seven runs on 10 hits while striking out one, walking three and hitting as many.

“David has been up and down all season. He got himself in a lot of jams, but also got himself out of them,” Kellner said. “He made a couple of mistakes. He hit some batters, gave some free bases and threw some 0-2 pitches he would like to have back, but all in all he has had a good year for us.”

Dylan Winter entered in relief and was eventually replaced by Austin Winter to finish the game.

With the loss, North Collins said goodbye to two seniors whose presence and leadership will be missed entering next season.

Left fielder David Fera and first baseman Jake Fyock may be the only players the Eagles lose to graduation, but their impact was felt both on and off the field.

“David (Fera) has been our heart and sole this year,” Kellner said. “We struggled early in the season. We had some personnel issues and really couldn’t find our identity until about game 10-12. He was a big part of our turnaround.

“Jake (Fyock) was our backup first baseman and turned out to be our DH the last few games because he was hitting the ball pretty hard,” Kellner added. “He’s a great character guy. He knew he wasn’t going to be on the field all the time, yet he kept his attitude where he needed to. I’m proud of both my seniors for keeping us on the straight and narrow.”