High Marks

Falconer Passes Another Test With Home Win Over Cassadaga Valley

Falconer’s Ben Schrader (11) tags out Cassadaga Valley’s Trent Gugino (14) at third base during Monday’s Division 1 West baseball game. P-J photos by Alex Shipherd

FALCONER — Having a versatile roster laden with experienced senior talent is always a nice way to begin the baseball season, and Falconer has proven that in their first three games of the year.

After opening up with a close 7-6 win over Chautauqua Lake on Wednesday and prevailing in an offensive shootout with Southwestern on Friday, the Golden Falcons moved to 3-0 on the year with a 13-3 CCAA Division 1 West win over Cassadaga Valley (0-4, 0-2) on Monday afternoon.

On this early set of tests, Chris Schrader’s team has come away with high marks.

“They put a lot of work in early on in the year and they are starting to see the benefits of hard work,” said Schrader. “We are very senior heavy, we have a lot of experience. These guys have been playing together for a long time. I just think that early on from the get-go in December (we thought) if we put things together there could be some pretty good things towards the end of the season.”

In the opening inning yesterday it appeared as though the Golden Falcons would head to the bottom half in a hole after Connor Crabtree cracked a single and proceeded to steal second base for the Cougars. That hit was followed by back-to-back walks by starting hurler Ben Schrader to load the bases, but after putting one out on the books Falconer was able to finish off a neat double play to close out the frame.

Golden Falcons’ pitcher Jacob Payne delivers to the plate.

In the bottom of the first, the Golden Falcons would fire out a four-run salvo that began with a single from Bobby Samuelson, who was promptly sent home with an RBI single to right field from Schrader. Matt Gullotti added a single before Mark Wilcox cracked another RBI single to make it 2-0. Two more runs scored on an error to push Falconer’s lead to 4-0.

In the top of the third, the Cougars threatened to get on the board once more as Crabtree ripped a triple to deep right field, but the senior would be stranded after that three-bagger as Schrader was able to retire the side on the way to a four-strikeout, four-walk afternoon.

In the bottom-half of the third, Wilcox plated Gullotti with a double to deep left field after the latter was sent to first on ball four. That lead would grow to 6-0 after a single from Jedd Jaroszynski.

Cassadaga Valley continued to threaten on offense, loading the bases in the fourth after Max Pingitore laid down a perfect bunt and was able to beat out the throw to first. The Cougars plated their first run on an error, with Falconer opting to move Jacob Payne on to the mound in relief of Schrader. The Cougars add two more runs before Falconer was able to get out of that jam.

The hosts added four more runs in the bottom half of the fourth as one run was walked in, Samuelson added another on a fielder’s choice, and Jaroszynski smacked a single that plated two more Golden Falcons.

Falconer’s offense would finish things off with a two-RBI double from Schrader in the fifth and an RBI single from Abbey in the sixth.

While most teams have taken notice of Falconer’s offensive depth, teams could also come to find that their bullpen is just as strong.

“Pitching-wise, you look at our league and a lot of teams have one real good, strong No. 1. With our team, I have about six or seven guys I am comfortable putting out there,” said Schrader. “I can put Benji out there, I can put Nate (Abbey) out there, I can put Bobby Samuelson, I can put Mark Wilcox. Someone who hasn’t even thrown for us yet is Matt Gullotti. He’s got kind of an elbow issue. He will be ready to throw probably next week. He is a strong No. 2 (and) he has No. 1 stuff too. Depending on the situation, we are very comfortable putting (these pitchers) out there.”

Goot finished with five strikeouts and three walks through three innings on the hill, Crabtree led the offense with a single, double and triple while Trent Gugino belted a pair of singles in the loss.

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