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Brown Leads Trojans To Long-Awaited League Title

P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg

Many good baseball players have called Packard Field home over the past four decades.

None of them called themselves league champions as Southwestern Trojans.

Until this spring.

2001 Trojans graduate Jared Brown was the man to take them there.

Southwestern clinched a share of that elusive crown May 17 with a 16-2 five-inning victory over Dunkirk in Lakewood.

Two nights later, the Trojans won the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 title outright with a 5-2 win in Gowanda to complete a 12-2 league schedule.

Southwestern earned the No. 2 seed for the Section VI Class B2 postseason and on May 24 beat No. 10 Allegany-Limestone for the third time in a quarterfinal game. Two days later, the Trojans’ season came to an end when they dropped a 5-4 verdict at home against No. 6 Medina. The Mustangs went on to beat Royalton-Hartland for the Class B2 title and then topped Depew for the overall ‘B’ crown.

But the postseason results didn’t dampen a wildly successful season for the Trojans.

Shortstop/pitcher Aidan Kennedy was named the league’s Player of the Year after hitting .462 with 10 doubles, a triple and three home runs. The senior drove in 28 runs and scored 27 while stealing 10 bases. On the mound, the right-hander went 5-3 with a 4.67 earned run average while striking out 52 in 45 innings pitched. He also saved two games.

Brown and the Trojans also placed two of Kennedy’s teammates on the league’s First Team.

Junior catcher Lucas Gilbert hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs while driving in 23 runs and scoring 29. Gilbert also provided stability at the catcher position in his first year as the varsity starter, committing just two errors and throwing out nine potential base stealers.

Sophomore infielder/pitcher Jameson Walsh was also named to the First Team. He hit .411 with 10 doubles and two home runs while driving in 23 runs and scoring 14. On the mound, the right-hander went 4-0 with a 3.97 ERA while striking out 56 in 37 innings pitched.

Southwestern also had two Second Team all-stars. Senior outfielder Jayce Neal hit .359 and junior infielder Dustin Hendrix hit .348 with three doubles, four triples and a home run.

Seniors Spencer Kane and Max Marshall received Honorable Mention recognition giving Southwestern all-stars in seven of its nine lineup spots.

The Trojans beat nonleague Frewsburg to open their season before falling to nonleague Clymer/Sherman/Panama 7-5 at Packard Field. The Wolfpack went on to win the Section VI Class D and Far West Regional titles before losing in the state semifinals.

Southwestern then lost its league opener 5-4 at Fredonia before ralling off five straight victories against Jamestown, Springville, Allegany-Limestone, Falconer and Gowanda.

A 9-7 loss at Dunkirk on April 30 would end up being the Trojans final regular season loss.

A perfect 8-0 May finished the regular season. The run included back-to-back wins over Olean to seriously damage the Huskies’ league title hopes. Southwestern then tested its pitching depth with close victories over Fredonia, Falconer and Jamestown on three consecutive days. Another win over Allegany-Limestone closed the week. The Trojans outscored their opponents 48-37 that week.

Coming out on top for those four games set up the wins over Dunkirk and Gowanda to close the league schedule and clinch the championship.

For leading his team to a 15-4 record, placing seven players on the league all-star team and earning the Trojans’ first league title in 40-plus years, Brown is the 2022 Post-Journal Coach of the Year.

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