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By Lacey Gardner

Cowburn lights out pitching, Ritter bat, Vogel-Green defense lead Wellsville to Section V semifinals

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Story and GALLERY by CHRIS BROOKS

WELLSVILLE — The top-seeded Wellsville Lions were in control of their own destiny. Holding the very best ranking one team could hold across Sectional play, home field advantage was theirs to capitalize upon.

Right off the bat, they came out swinging with a dominant one-hit shutout twirled to No. 16 Marcus Whitman. Now, they were put into a position to make even more noise against a team with one of Section V’s most prestigious pedigrees in the game of baseball — the Livonia Bulldogs, who were fresh off a walk-off victory over last year’s defending Sectional champion, Bath-Haverling.

With one more game separating them from hosting the Semifinal round, and two more steps from heading to the home of the Rochester Red Wings to compete for a championship brick, the Lions would have to do everything in their favor to slow down a fast Bulldogs squad from start to finish.

The ball was given to Aiden Cowburn for his call to the mound on Monday. And with it, he ran away with it and so much more.

The Wellsville junior was absolutely lights out during his time on the rubber, as he combined with reliever Trenton Green to hold Livonia to one run off three hits, carrying a no-hit bid into the sixth inning along the way while the twigs at the plate broke loose to set up shop for an offensive hayday down the stretch, locking down what was an 11-1 victory in the Lion’s Den.

“Only giving up two hits, those were later in the game, striking out nine in all. Aiden was really well done tonight,” said Lions coach Tom Delahunt. “It wasn’t an easy game to throw, an easy game to pitch. It was hot outside, but he put his head down and really gave us five strong innings of work. I’m really proud of his effort tonight, and then Trenton coming in to help slam the door shut. Our pitchers struck out 10 against a great Livonia team, making big pitches when it counted.”

After the exchange of a scoreless first outing at the plate, the defenses would buckle down again between both teams, up until the Lions (19-1) were able to break the ice with an RBI from Green, who brought in Matt Ritter with an RBI off a Livonia error in the field. The Bulldogs would attempt to feed off the Lions and their momentum, but it was not allowed, as they kept their red-hot presence on defense with back-to-back strikeouts from Cowburn and a throwdown to the base in the infield from Alex Green to catch the game-tying runner off guard.

As a direct result of the team’s strong defensive finish, they would post three more runs in the bottom half of the third. Behind the combination of smart at-bats and some base-running between it all, a two-run single for Trenton Green would come into full fruition to give Wellsville a big lead extension they needed to stay out in front, up by four.

If any more momentum could slide in Wellsville’s favor, they would get a complete fanning of the side in the fourth inning against Livonia while scoring one more additional run off of Alex Green’s RBI single into left center field.

With a 5-0 lead of the Bulldogs now in their complete command, the defense would now step in and commence holding their visiting opposition in going absolutely nowhere off big plays from both Ty Vogel and Cooper Brockway in the field to leave two runners on base. Wellsville could not build any momentum off the latest spurt on the field, as Livonia came right back and delivered a 1-2-3 haymaker on defense themselves to shut the door on the fifth inning.

The no-hit bid for Cowburn was no longer in effect, as Livonia went on to assemble their biggest threat of the game against Cowburn with their first run off an RBI into the infield from Jack TeBeau. The score would result in a pitching change for the Lions, ending Cowburn’s extravagant performance in the process with nine strikeouts and four walks.

Following the change on the mound, Livonia would proceed to load up all the bases behind Trenton Green in relief, and with just one out. Although the pressure is at the highest of levels, the Lions would pull their way through it off a pair of consecutive outs delivered courtesy of an infield fly and then, a grounder fielded by Vogel at shortstop.

While evading the Bulldogs and their potential game-changing stanza in the works, the Lions turned right around and delivered the knockout blow to the No. 8 seeds — a six-run bottom of the sixth inning to put the game on ice, led by a multitude of hits that included a two-run single off the bat of Karson Grover to push the game completely out of reach.

In total, Wellsville amassed 11 runs off an identical 11-hit outing at the plate, with seven different Lions recording at least a hit. Helping further the team’s cause was Matt Ritter, who had a double and three runs scored, while Trenton Green and Cooper Brockway each scored two more runs.

Delahunt says the hits speak volumes to one of the team’s biggest advantages they could have.

“The kids wanted to shine tonight. Livonia ended our season two years ago,” he said. “It was balanced up and down the lineup. The top of it with Cowburn, Vogel and Alex, those three guys, Livonia gave them fits. But it allowed the middle of the lineup to come through strong, starting with Matt’s double to help us get going. In the third, Cooper getting on base and then Trenton breaking the game open a little more. We never really rely on one person, and that’s been our story all season long. Everyone is finding a way to get involved.”

Wellsville’s quest towards glory will continue on towards what will be their very last home game of the season in front of their home crowd Wednesday night, as they now prepare to host the No. 5 Dansville Mustangs in the Class B Semifinal round, beginning in a 5 p.m. first pitch in the Lion’s Den.

The Mustangs have not allowed a run in Sectional play, having defeated No. 4 Wayland-Cohocton in upset fashion with a 1-0 shutout to clinch their Semifinals berth.

The winner will go on to square off against either No. 6 North Rose-Wolcott or No. 2 Notre Dame-Batavia this weekend in the Class B Finals, which will take place at the home of the Rochester Red Wings, Triple A affiliate of the Washington Nationals — Innovative Field in downtown Rochester.

Livonia 000 001 0 – 1 3 4

Wellsville 013 106 X – 11 11 1

LIV – Connor Feehan (LP) 4K, 5BB), Ethan Mack (6) (K, BB), Oliver Taylor (6) (2K, BB) and Jacob Benitez.

WLSV – Aiden Cowburn (WP) (9K, 4BB), Trenton Green (6) (K) and Alex Green.

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