FREWSBURG-Falconer coach Tim Butzer walked out to the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning with his team holding a seemingly comfortable lead, 2-0, in a non-league baseball game against the Frewsburg Bears (1-0).
His starting pitcher, Ryan Finn dazzled against the potent Bears lineup through the first 7innings, holding them to a mere two hits. With Chris Mitchell on first base and the sweet swing of Thad Johnson at the plate, it was a good time for Butzer to talk to his pitcher.
Suddenly the home crowd in Frewsburg was reminded why they were runner-ups in the Class C state finals in 2009.
Frewsburg’s Kyle Grey is congratulated by his teammates after a delivering a walk-off RBI?single in the Bears’ extra-inning non-league baseball win over Falconer on Thursday.
P-J photo by Simon Teska
An opposite field, RBI double off the wall in right-center from Johnson opened the floodgates. Kyle Grey eventually drove in his brother, Connor, on a hot-shot single up the middle with two outs and the Bears celebrated their first victory of the 2010 season, a 3-2 win in walk-off fashion.
''You look to those guys who came up in the eighth inning to be the leaders,'' Frewsburg coach Jay Grann said. ''We got a big hit from Thad, Connor Grey had a hit, and we're expecting a lot out of him this year, and then Kyle hit the game-winner.''
Nick Yachetta gave up the game-winning hit, but the run was charged to Finn, who finished with an impressive line of only four hits and two walks in his 7 innings. Although he didn't strike out a batter, Finn induced 16 flyball outs.
Against the Frewsburg lineup, that's impressive.
''He pitched a great game,'' Butzer said of Finn. ''At the end of the seventh inning, he was only up to 70 or 71 pitches. I thought he deserved the chance to either win or lose that game. It was obviously a pitcher's duel, 0-0, through seven innings.''
Frewsburg's Asa Johnson matched Finn pitch for pitch through his seven innings of work. He finished with six strikeouts and only gave up four hits but walked five.
''I gave him a challenge early in the week that even in a non-league game, I need him to go out and pitch his game,'' Grann said. ''We're going to need that later in the year whether it's against Falconer or Cattaraugus (Little Valley) or whomever. We're going to need his best game. I think he had an okay outing today.''
After his seven innings, Grann sat down his ace and moved Thad Johnson to the mound. Whether it was a different face, a different speed or a different delivery, the Golden Falcons (0-1) responded well. They got on the board for the first runs of the game.
The big shot came from Alex Pickett when he ripped a triple to the gap in right-center field with one out. An intentional walk to Scott Roberts put runners on the corners for Ryan Mays.
Mays hit a soft grounder to the right side of the infield, Kyle Grey came home with the throw but Pickett's speed beat the tag from Connor Grey and Falconer was up 1-0.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Yachetta scored Roberts and it was a 2-0 lead for the Golden Falcons.
''I was happy with the way we hit the ball against (Asa) Johnson,'' Butzer said. ''I think we left some runs out there early in the game. We had a guy thrown out at the plate, we missed a steal sign, but I was happy with the way we played defense. Maybe we got a little tired in the end but they're a good team.''
At the plate for the Bears, there were a lot of well-hit, hard-hit balls, but that doesn't always translate into hits. Through seven innings, a single from Connor Grey in the fourth and Asa Johnson in the sixth were the only hits they could muster.
In the eighth, however, three hits plated the only three runs they needed.
''I think that was the kind of offense we were looking for,'' Grann said of the eighth inning. ''For being a hot day, the bats were cold for a while.''
For Falconer, Richard Allen finished with two singles and a walk, Aaron Boedecker was on base twice with two walks and Roberts reached safely in all four at bats with two walks and two hits.
On Thursday, it was all about Finn, who looked impressive in his junior season debut.
''I think he's the kind of pitcher who can move the ball around a lot and it keeps you off balance,'' Grann said. ''Early in the season that's tough because we're going up there a little anxious. We're trying to go out there and contribute but we're just a little anxious. He did a heck of a job today.''
As a team, the Bears didn't strike out once. Everything was getting put in play, but the Falconer defense was up to the challenge.
''They went to states last year and i think we came out and played pretty well today,'' Butzer added. ''I'm not disappointed. We got 15 guys who I think can play.''
As if that game wasn't entertaining enough, both squads will be back at in on Saturday, this time on the home field of the Golden Falcons. First pitch is set for noon.