Saturday Baseball: In potential D1 Finals preview, Wagner calls game with walk-off, two-run single in defensive 4-3 shootout with Ark/Can; B-R claims 2nd straight home tourney title
By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com
FILLMORE — It was a marquee matchup that has been circled on the calendar for the longest time. A potential Class D1 Finals preview took center stage on Saturday on an afternoon at the park. The Town Park in Fillmore that is.
In a mid-season test of wits and splendor, both the Wolves of Arkport/Canaseraga and the defending champion Eagles went toe-to-toe in what was perhaps their biggest game of the season at that point. One that featured Micah Marvin and Brent Zubikowski giving it their all during their time on the mound.
It would all come down to providing the last crack of the bat.
In the bottom of the seventh, the most prime of opportunities would emerge. After an intentional walk to Zubikowski loaded up the bases, Fillmore head coach Bill Nolan pulled his No. 5 hitter — Aiden Wagner, aside for a brief conversation along the third base line.
A conversation that each would share a smile in. As Wagner stepped into the box, the message that he received from Nolan was heard loud and clear.
After just one, single pitch, the game was over.
The Fillmore senior unloaded on a pitch that he was able to drive out into right center field, squibbing far enough for two baserunners — the game-tying, and game-winning, to ride their high horses around the bags and to the plate, recording the two-out, two-run walk-off single to help the Eagles garner their eighth win in nine games with a 4-3 edge over the Wolves.
“Aiden weathered the storm out there for us today. He stuck with it and because of it, he had a great day in a huge game,” said Eagles coach Bill Nolan. “I just enjoyed watching the never-give-up spirit these guys had. This is a game that we needed to know more about what was out there. We can’t just show up and expect good things to happen. We had to find the resolve to fight, and this game was a great lesson for them. Hats off to Arkport/Canaseraga, they have a really nice team, good spirit. They were great opponents.”
Before the walk-off victory for the Eagles could be garnered, they would have to survive a duel with Arkport/Canaseraga on defense beginning after the Wolves broke the ice during their opening at-bats in the first, scoring a run on a bloop single into the infield. The Eagles (8-1) soon after would go right to work turning up the pressure with Zubikowski’s outstanding outing on the hill leading the way, striking out three batters in four at-bats to escort the defense off.
A short time later, the offense would vacuum a burst of momentum from their latest stand in the field to tie the game. With runners occupying second and third, the lead runner would find his way in to score, as Jude Beardsley made a break for the plate on a ball that went straight to the backstop, scoring easily to tie the game at one.
Marvin and Zubikowski would continue to deal on the mound, including yet another three strikeouts in four at-bats for Zubikowski to head the fourth. But the Wolves would ultimately find a way to crack through in the fifth, as Tidus Marvin hit a bullet into center field to score the go-ahead run inside the team’s two-run frame.
The Eagles offense would remain frozen, but not for long. In the bottom of the sixth, Brent Zubikowski took matters into his own hands by cutting the deficit down to a run all himself, blasting a lead-off double right to the left field fence before working his way around to home on a steal of third base, and eventually towards the plate off a throw into foul territory to attempt to catch him stealing the bag.
A big moment for the Fillmore defense would arise in the top of the seventh. Arkport/Canaseraga’s final card to play on the table consisted of two base runners. Before they could apply another big hit of damage, Mitch Ward came in through the clutch with one out on the board, handing out chairs to both Briar Drake and Eli Melly to end the inning, leaving both Wolves aboard.
In turn, the momentum shifted at the plate, as Fillmore proceeded to load up the bases while being forced down to their final out of the game. It would set up for the most dynamic of scenarios for Wagner, who did not hesitate one bit, pulverizing his game-winning two-run single into right center field to score both Zach Sisson and Mitch Ward to win the game.
Wagner was one of two Eagles to record two hits at the plate to lead the offense. The other being the team’s lead batter, Nolan Krzeminski, who recorded three of them. Damon Potter added a double to help the cause. On the mound, Zubikowski provided a magnificent start that elongated into the fifth, fanning nine Arkport/Canaseraga batters while walking just two. That would allow Ward to step in on relief to record the win, dishing out four strikeouts of his own while walking two.
For Arkport/Canaseraga, Micah Marvin was just as outstanding in his start on the mound, nearly finishing the complete game in the seventh, but was relieved after the final at-bat in the seventh by Tidus Marvin, as he finished his afternoon with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Up next, the Eagles will look to keep their flame ablaze back at the Town Park on Tuesday, as they welcome in the Hinsdale Bobcats for a 5 p.m. first pitch.
Arkport/Canaseraga 100 020 0 – 3 4 2
Fillmore 001 001 2 – 4 7 4
A/C – Micah Marvin (9K, 3BB), Tidus Marvin (LP, 7) (BB) and Briar Drake.
FIL – Brent Zubikowski (9K, 2BB), Mitch Ward (WP, 5) (4K, 2BB) and Nolan Krzeminski.
More sports after this Chris Brooks photo gallery:
B-R Tournament: Wolverines dominate Otto-Eldred, Addison to claim 2nd straight title
BOLIVAR — After all-day rains forced the start of Bolivar-Richburg’s annual mid-season tournament back to Saturday morning, four teams — Addison, Otto-Eldred, Cuba-Rushford and the host and defending champion Wolverines all duked it out across the overcast morning and afternoon, and into the evening for the right to take this year’s throne.
The start to the day was of dominant fashion for the Wolverines, as Trey Buchholz issued one of his strongest starts of the season to get his team off on the right foot with a trip to the Championship game later on in the day, tossing six shutout innings while providing the offense’s big bat along the way in the 8-1 opening round win over Otto-Eldred.
In the first five innings, Bolivar-Richburg saw all eight of their runs come across, beginning with back-to-back RBIs from Caden Allen and Landon Barkley in the bottom of the first. More damage would be done soon after with Trey Buchholz, who had the team’s big bat, going 2-for-3 with his RBI triple in the second, scoring James Margeson to branch their lead out to three.
While the Wolverines kept adding more to their foundation, Buchholz would maintain Otto-Eldred’s silence at the plate with six straight shutout innings, going the complete four-hit distance by handing out 10 chairs and walking just one to record the victory at the end of the opening round battle.
The offense would go on to score five more runs in the next three innings, using special teams around the bases to propel the majority of the runs across the plate before Otto-Eldred snapped Buchholz’ potential shutout bid in the top of the seventh with their lone run of the game.
Adding more offensive contributions were Aydin Sisson, who went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored, while David Baldwin chipped in with an RBI triple.
Following the first opening round battle, was a second game that featured near perfection. One that the Knights of Addison took control of from start to finish, as they finished just a single hit away from having Andrew Jones toss a perfect game on the mound. As a result, the Knights used a quick start and even stronger finish while holding the Rebels of Cuba-Rushford still with an 11-0 win through five innings to claim the second spot in the tournament’s title game later in the day.
“Addison was absolutely solid. Their pitcher was very good,” said Rebels coach Pat Wight. “He threw with great control on the ball. Braeden (Wight) was the only one with a hit, and he was our only base runner all game. That was the big thing separating Addison from getting a perfect game.”
Addison collected 11 runs of 10 hits at the plate, using their baserunning to capitalize early with three runs in the opening frame of play. With the lead in hand, the two foes went on to exchange two scoreless innings before the Knights went back to work by creating a strong finish against Cuba-Rushford, scoring eight more runs — four in each the fourth and fifth innings, to push their lead out insurmountably to lay claim on the last Championship game spot.
Jones was credited with a one-hit shutout for the Knights, as he handed out 11 chairs to the Rebels to keep them off the board. As for Cuba-Rushford, Braeden Wight had the team’s lone hit and lone appearance on the bases all game, scoring a single. Wight was named to the All-Tournament team at day’s end.
On the mound, Eli Sleggs struck out four and walked five in his four-inning tenure.
Both Cuba-Rushford and Otto-Eldred would move into the Consolation round that immediately followed the second first round battle. Through it all, the Rebels and Terrors were right alongside one another until the very end.
With a 6-5 lead in hand for the Rebels, the time to shut the door on the Terrors was now. But Otto-Eldred had different plans, as they turned up the heat during their final at-bats to deliver a walk-off end to their day, splitting their time at the tournament with what was a 7-6 victory.
“Jack Frank pitched a solid game for us in the second game,” said Wight. “Our defense struggled with some routine plays, and Otto-Eldred made us pay for it. Credit to them, we had some chances to stretch the lead and we really couldn’t find a way to capitalize on it.”
The Rebels (6-5) were the first to strike during their opening at-bats, with Jack Frank providing a dual force on both sides, including the first of his three RBI at the plate to score Finn Ricketts. From that point forward, both teams provided even exchanges that would allow Cuba-Rushford to maintain their lead, including a three-run fifth that Frank headlined behind a two-run double.
But through all the trading, Otto-Eldred was able to find the opening in the bottom of the seventh to exploit, as they managed to end their day in walk-off style with their two game-winning runs to squeeze past the Rebels.
Frank went the first six innings of play on the mound, recording eight strikeouts and four walks for Cuba-Rushford. At the plate, Ricketts went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
As for this year’s champion, an eight-run inning told the entire story. That belonged to the host Wolverines, who were able to go back-to-back with one last dominant performance to close out the festivities, holding Addison to just two hits along the way in their 12-0 rout to re-claim their spot at the throne.
“The pitching was outstanding today. We kept the pitch count down, we threw a lot of strikes and the defense was outstanding behind them. David Baldwin made some really nice plays at third for us, but the pitchers got out on top and stayed in control both games,” said Wolverines coach Dustin Allen. “This was nice. The kids were really focused and it was nice to see. All four teams are excellent teams, well-coached. The guys came out and did everything we asked of them. Hopefully we can keep going and build on this.”
Proceeding past a scoreless exchange in their first at-bats, the floodgates broke open almost instantly for the Wolverines (9-3), as the offense came alive to spring out towards an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the second,. paced by RBI singles from four different hitters, that they would never relinquish to the Knights. Across the next two innings, Bolivar-Richburg secured their lead for good with the remaining four runs — three of them in the bottom of the third.
The common denominator behind the team’s success across both games — Trey Buchholz, who once again delivered a clutch outing at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple, RBI and two runs scored. He would go on to earn the tournament’s MVP honor. Adding help along the way on the attack was Baldwin, who scored an RBI triple, while Aydin Sisson went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
On the mound, Caden Allen went the distance in his twirled two-hit shutout, fanning three and walking one. Allen, along with Sisson and Landon Barkley were named to the All-Tournament team.
Since their arrival back home from their trip to Myrtle Beach, the Wolverines have won eight of the last nine games. Allen says that the trip to go witness and partake in elite competition was something that he had hoped would give his group that extra boost forward.
“The trip down south, even though we didn’t win both games, it was a huge boost to get us going in the right direction,” he said. “It was motivation, and we knew that we weren’t the kings of the hill. They put the effort in down south to get us where we are now. Hopefully in the long run, that trip will pay off. So far, things are going well.”
Both Cuba-Rushford and Bolivar-Richburg will resume play after the weekend, with the Wolverines playing host to Andover/Whitesville at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, while the Rebels hit the road for Friendship on Wednesday, visiting Friendship/Scio for a 5 p.m. battle of their own.
Otto-Eldred 000 000 1 – 1 4 2
Bolivar-Richburg 212 210 X – 8 5 0
O-E – Max Splain (LP) (2K, 5BB), Jared Obernrader (3) (K, BB), Austin Cousins (5) (2K, BB), Zach Schuessler (6) (BB) and Cal Minich.
B-R – Trey Buchholz (WP) (CG, 10K, BB) and Aydin Sisson.
Addison 300 44 – 11 10 0
Cuba-Rushford 000 00 – 0 1 2
ADD – Andrew Jones (WP) (CG, 11K) and Jacob Howe.
C-R – Eli Sleggs (LP) (4K, 5BB), Finn Ricketts (5) (K, 3BB) and Dean Frank.
Cuba-Rushford 101 031 0 – 6 9 2
Otto-Eldred 001 031 2 – 7 6 1
C-R – Jack Frank (8K, 4BB), Jacob Smith (LP, 7) (2K, BB) and Sam Grover.
O-E – Max Splain (3K, BB), Jake Obernrader (4) (K, BB), Cal Minich (WP, 5) (2K, 3BB) and Minich, Zach Schwessler (5).
Addison 000 00 – 0 2 4
Bolivar-Richburg 083 1X – 12 9 0
ADD – Camden Mahnke (LP) (2BB), Tyler Miller (3) (K, 3BB) and Jacob Howe.
B-R – Caden Allen (WP) (CG, 3K, BB) and Aydin Sisson.
Andover/Whitesville 9, Alfred-Almond 0
ANDOVER — Andover/Whitesville has begun to find their groove as of late. On Saturday, they would keep on riding that same groove against visiting Alfred-Almond behind a dominant start from Layton Miller, who combined with Brody Carlin to hold the Eagles to three hits while the offense clicked to deliver another shutout win, this time by a 9-0 count.
“The boys showed up and the top of our order set the tone. A ton of speed, putting pressure on their defense. Layton threw another great game, and our defense was locked in. We are playing very solid baseball right now, and the boys are working hard to make it happen.” said Andover/Whitesville co-coach Jake Bannerman.
Across each of the first five innings of play, Andover/Whitesville (3-4) was outstanding at the plate after scoring at least a run, including an explosive three-run start during their first at-bats that would allow them to gain possession of the lead. Little by little, the hosts continued to add until they insurmountably pushed their lead out in the bottom of the fourth with another three-run frame, staying one step ahead of Alfred-Almond for good.
While the offense was building on, Layton Miller fronted a dominant showing of defense with his arm, tossing six shutout innings while handing out 11 chairs and walking just two. Brody Carlin would then come in on relief and help finish the job with two more strikeouts and a walk to complete another shutout performance for Andover/Whitesville.
Carlin would also lead the way with the team’s biggest bat, going 2-for-2 with three RBI.
Andover/Whitesville will now hit the road Tuesday night, visiting Bolivar-Richburg in a 5 p.m. first pitch.
Alfred-Almond 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
Andover/Whitesville 311 310 X – 9 9 2