Golden Falcons Return To Sectional Glory

Schrader, Samuelson Shine For Falconer

Falconer’s Ben Schrader delivers to the plate during Sunday’s Section VI Class C championship game against Frewsburg at Diethrick Park. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

The background of Chris Schrader’s Apple Watch is a picture of his son Ben as a 6-year-old, pitching his first youth baseball game.

While Chris, the head coach of the Falconer baseball team, was surely proud of his son that day, there’s no doubt he was even more proud Sunday.

Ben Schrader took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a four-run third inning proved to be enough offense for the Golden Falcons in a 4-2 Section VI Class C championship game win over Frewsburg at Diethrick Park.

“Compared to last year, this year is crazy,” Ben Schrader said postgame. “Last year we only had like three wins. It’s just crazy what a turnaround it’s been.”

“I can’t even explain it,” shortstop Bobby Samuelson added. “I’m raging through emotions right now. It’s hard to speak.”

Falconer captains, from left: Nate Abbey, Bobby Samuelson and Ben Schrader are pictured with the Section VI championship plaque following Sunday’s Section VI Class C baseball title game at Diethrick Park. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

Falconer will play in the Far West Regional at 2 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Fredonia against either Gananda and Bolivar-Richburg, who will play for the Section V title Tuesday.

Schrader threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out three. He threw 49 of his 65 pitches for strikes, including first-pitch strikes to 17 of 22 batters he faced.

“From Little League to Babe Ruth, Ben was the guy who pitched these kind of games,” Chris Schrader said. ” … He’s always been in this kind of a spotlight.”

Aaron Hair took the loss for the Bears, throwing four innings while allowing four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven.

“He just wasn’t sharp today. I’m not sure why,” Frewsburg coach Jay Grann said. “He’ll learn from it and he’ll bounce back. Hopefully he’s standing on that same hill next year.”

Frewsburg shortstop Jack Yost makes a diving stop during Sunday’s Section VI Class C championship game against Falconer at Diethrick Park. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

Despite walking just once, Falconer took advantage of some wildness from Hair to score four runs in the top of the third inning. Jedd Jaroszynski led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch before Nate Abbey walked.

Jacob Payne then attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but it turned into a hit when the Bears were late covering third, causing a late throw to first. Jaroszynski then scored on a wild pitch before Samuelson came through with the biggest hit of the game, a two-run triple to the left-field wall.

“I crave that situation,” Samuelson said. “That’s the situation my coach expects me to be in, that’s why I’m in the No. 3 hole. I did what I had to do.”

“Bobby’s been around .500 all year. He is Mr. Clutch,” Chris Schrader said. “He fits in that No. 3 hole nicely. … He’s been huge for us this year.”

Ben Schrader then reached on a dropped third strike and Samuelson scored on the play to make it 4-0.

Bears second baseman Nolan Brink makes a leaping grab. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

That proved to be plenty for Schrader and the Golden Falcons defense, who combined to retire the first seven Frewsburg batters before Kaleb Bender reached on an error in the bottom of the third inning.

“It seems like we make one play after another,” Chris Schrader said of his team’s defense. “It keeps us in the close games and we’ve had a lot of them this year.”

Schrader then retired the next nine Bears before Caleb Carr walked with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I came in with one job to do, win the game,” Ben Schrader said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I knew I had my defense behind me to back me up so I was pretty confident.”

Two batters later, Hair picked up Frewsburg’s first hit with a slow roller to shortstop and Nick Marsh followed with a swinging bunt for a hit to load the bases with two outs. Nolan Brink then hit a blooper that fell in between two Falconer outfielders and the shortstop plating a pair of runs to make it 4-2.

Falconer shortstop Bobby Samuelson makes a play during Sunday’s Section VI Class C final against Frewsburg at Diethrick Park. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

“This team has shown a lot of fight, especially in the second half of the season,” Grann said. “They love playing together. They didn’t want it to end. I’m proud of the way they fought.”

That spelled the end of the evening for Ben Schrader and Chris Schrader called upon left-hander Matt Gullotti to get out of the jam. After hitting Jason Dustin with a pitch to load the bases, Gullotti struck out a Bears pinch-hitter to end the inning.

“I am confident in Matt’s ability. He’s a great pitcher,” Ben Schrader said. “He does a great job in relief of me.”

After a groundout and a strikeout in the seventh, Gullotti got the final Frewsburg batter to line out to second base and threw his glove up in the air while the team came together to celebrate around the mound.

“The first day in the gym on the board they wrote ‘States.’ … That’s a pretty big ambition,” Chris Schrader said. ” … They’ve just put so much work into it during the preseason and during the season. It’s finally paying off. … They’ve always won, so why not this group.”

After a team meeting down the right-field line, Chris Schrader eventually found his son Ben for a long embrace in front of the visitors’ dugout.

A hug 18 years in the making.

NOTES: This is Falconer’s 14th sectional title and first since winning three straight from 1999-2001. … Payne and Samuelson each had two hits for Falconer. … Gullotti earned the save with 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief, striking out two. … Ryan Schrecengost threw three innings of shutout relief for Frewsburg, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one. … The paid attendance was announced as 638, several of which were part of the Frewsburg Blue Crew student section.