Putney’s One-Hitter Leads Fredonia To Victory

Fredonia’s Ashton Putney delivers to the plate during Tuesday’s CCAA Division 1 baseball game against Salamanca at Fredonia High School. P-J photo by Ashleigh Brown

FREDONIA — Ashton Putney worked quickly Tuesday.

It was a product of the results he was getting and the temperature dropping nearly 20 degrees during Fredonia’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 baseball game against Salamanca.

It turned out to be a perfect formula for the Hillbillies’ junior.

Putney threw a five-inning one-hitter with seven strikeouts and a walk as Fredonia shut out the Warriors 8-0 as rain began to fall and winds gusted to as much as 30 mph at Fredonia High School.

“He was sharp. … The weather was fine for the first inning or two and then it took a dramatic change. His command was not impacted,” Fredonia head coach Tim Cowan said. “He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and really command the strike zone.”

Fredonia’s Luca Gullo reaches first base as Salamanca’s Cole Urbanski attempts to pick a low throw out of the dirt during Tuesday’s CCAA Division 1 baseball game in Fredonia. P-J photo by Ashleigh Brown

At the plate, Putney helped himself with a 2-for-3 afternoon that included a triple, a three-run double and a sacrifice fly.

Putney opened the game with back-to-back strikeouts before inducing a groundout. Fredonia’s offense quickly gave him a lead in the bottom of the first inning. After Putney tripled and scored on a wild pitch, Matt Cowan and Owen Rush reached on back-to-back walks. Nathan Sercu then moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Following a strikeout, Colin Luce hit a two-run single over the Warriors’ shortstop to make it 3-0.

“To come up with the big two-out single, I really think changed the feel of that game,” Coach Cowan said. “Instead of feeling like we might’ve let an opportunity pass, you feel pretty good about it there.”

Salamanca No. 6 hitter Kruz Coustenis picked up the Warriors’ lone hit of the day with two outs in the second inning when he lofted a single down the left-field line.

“He threw a no-hitter last year. His first league start this year was a three-hit shutout,” Coach Cowan said of Putney. “The pitch was a great pitch. He came down and in on a lefty and he somehow got a barrel on it for a clean single.”

The Hillbillies left the bases loaded in the second inning, but added on four runs in the third inning. Sercu and Andrew Cowan each singled to open the frame before Luce reached on a fielder’s choice. A double steal with Sercu and Luce made it 4-0 before Colin Crowell walked and Luca Gullo reached on an error with two outs.

“Trust the guy behind you. Nobody has to do too much,” Coach Cowan said of his team’s philosophy. “If you trust the next guy to do their job, things start to snowball. That’s how it’s been going so far.”

Putney then broke the game open with a bases-clearing double to deep center field.

“He’s been really locked in at the plate right from the word go. In our trips down south he tripled three times in five games. Since we’ve come back, he’s had an extra-base hit in all but one game,” Coach Cowan said. “He’s been setting the table really well for us from the leadoff spot. It’s obviously an added bonus, not only does he get on, but he puts himself in scoring position.”

The 8-0 lead was plenty for the right-hander, who retired Salamanca in order in the fourth and fifth innings.

“During the innings, he definitely — when things are going well — likes to work quickly,” Coach Cowan said. “As the weather got worse, he chose to take little to no warmup in between innings as we were chasing an official game.”

Umpires called the game with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. The teams will meet again Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park in Salamanca as the Warriors will likely throw left-handed ace Jaxson Ross at the Hillbillies.

“I think there can be a tendency to overthink it. I think if you look too much at trying to line pitchers up it can come back to bite you especially with the weather we deal with. For us, it’s just looking at our own lineup and who’s ready and who’s available,” Coach Cowan said. “We deal with the opponent second. I really don’t pay too much attention to who we are facing until we exchange lineup cards.”

Fredonia improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the league, while Salamanca fell to 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the league.

“Everybody has a bullet, at least one strong pitcher. Some teams are fortunate to have two. Any game can turn into a pitchers’ duel. There is no time off and no letup. I think that is a testament to the quality of players and pitchers in the league. If you take anybody for granted, it’s going to come back and get you,” Coach Cowan said. “From our own perspective, we only look at the game in front of us. Our entire focus will be preparing at practice for Thursday’s game at Salamanca. We don’t try to save anybody. It’s just what’s in front of us. Every win is so precious. We count ourselves lucky to be where we’re at right now, but we have to keep working just as hard for the next one.”


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