Dunkirk Eliminates State-Champion Depew

Dunkirk pitcher Greg Orcutt delivers a pitch during a Section VI Class A2 semifinal against the Depew Wildcats at Depew High School on Thursday. P-J photo by Braden Carmen

DEPEW — Before the biggest game of the year to date for the Dunkirk Marauders on Thursday, head coach Frank Jagoda sent a text message to Greg Orcutt, his choice as the game’s starting pitcher. Jagoda urged Orcutt to be the competitive athlete that he is, and said if he did that, “things would work out okay.”

Message received.

Thursday afternoon, the Dunkirk Marauders re-wrote the narrative from last year’s season-ending loss to the eventual state-champion Depew Wildcats. This time, although the venue was home to Depew, the stage belonged to the Marauders.

After a four-run first inning, error-free defense, and 6 2/3 shutout innings from Orcutt, the Marauders walked away with a 5-0 win over the Wildcats in a Class A2 semifinal at Depew High School.

“It just feels great. It feels great to beat the team that beat us last year,” Orcutt said after the win.

Reflecting on last year’s season-ending defeat, Orcutt said Thursday’s victory was for Tyler Karin and Brady Corbett, the senior leaders who lost on the same stage, to the same team a year ago.

On Thursday, No. 7 Dunkirk jumped on the Wildcats without wasting a minute. Paul Trippy III led off the game with a single, then advanced to second on a passed ball. Zach Zentz followed with a bunt, and although No. 3 Depew went for the out at third, Trippy made it in safely. Josh Lemanski followed with an RBI single, then Orcutt had an RBI double and Dylan Bankoski had an RBI single to put the Marauders ahead 3-0 before an out was recorded. Dunkirk led 4-0 after a top of the first inning that brought all nine batters to the plate.

The Marauders struggled to muster anything else offensively for the rest of the day, with only one run scored after the first inning. That came in the top of the sixth inning, when Jon Ganey was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, then Gabe Valentine reached on a bunt where the throw to first base was dropped. Trippy drove in the pinch runner for Ganey to extend Dunkirk’s lead to 5-0. The insurance run was nice, but it wasn’t necessary.

“We’ve been discussing how we get ahead and then we sit, but we’ve got a guy on the mound that gets fired up every inning,” Jagoda said.

From shouting encouragement to his teammates, to smiling with his teammates walking toward the dugout, to a thunderous roar after concluding the fifth inning with a strikeout on a full-count pitch, Orcutt let everyone in attendance know how much the moment meant to him. He regularly got out of trouble, leaving runners on base throughout the contest so that the four singles and five walks he issued never came around to score.

After nearly every pitch, the Depew fan section behind home plate berated Orcutt, along with several other Marauders and the umpires, to the point where fans watching the game from home took enough issue with the harassment that the live stream was muted. But although the Depew fans would not stop shouting, Orcutt’s performance on the hill gave them plenty of reason to bite their tongue. The Depew offense was hushed in every big moment of Thursday’s contest.

“It just feels great to shut people up,” Orcutt said.

Dunkirk now advances to the title game, where the Marauders will face the fourth-seeded Maryvale Flyers.

“We’re very happy to be where we’re at, but we’ve got some unfinished business,” Jagoda said.

After beating Dunkirk in the postseason in eerily similar fashion to Thursday’s win for the Marauders, the Wildcats rode the momentum throughout the rest of the postseason en route to the school’s first-ever state championship. On a day where Orcutt and several of his teammates walked down the streets of Dunkirk in a parade to support Special Olympics athletes, the Marauders had a performance Thursday afternoon that gave Dunkirk hope of a different sort of parade.

“Our boys know that that’s what they did. They know that we had a chance this time, that we’ve got the same opportunity as they did last year,” Jagoda said of his team’s title hopes after eliminating the defending state champs. “We’re just going to keep it rolling and let the chips fall where they may. But right now, the chips are leaning on our side, and people know we’re coming.”

The Class A2 title game begins at 10 a.m. at Niagara Falls High School.

“I’m excited. This is the first section championship game I’ve been a part of in my high school career,” Orcutt said of what is on the horizon on Saturday. “… It’s going to be a show. I’d recommend coming.”


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