Portville eliminates Bears in ‘C’ | News, Sports, Jobs
FREWSBURG — When Eric Haglund raked the pitcher’s mound at the Frewsburg Sports Complex Thursday night at the conclusion of the Section VI Class C semifinal baseball game, most of his players were seated in the dugout.
They didn’t want to go.
But Portville, the no 1. Gowanda in Saturday’s section final at Diethrick Park in Jamestown. The first pitch is scheduled for noon.
“(Gowanda coach) Tim Smith and I are really good friends,” said Portville coach Mike Matz. “We talked today, I texted him during the game and I’m sure we’ll talk tonight and tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll be friendly on Saturday morning and we want to tear each other apart by Saturday’s game, but we’ll be friends again on Saturday afternoon.”
The friendly reunion didn’t start out looking promising as Frewsburg’s Maddox Sheesley gave Frewsburg a 2-0 lead after the first inning with a two-run single (17-3).
But the Panthers (18-2) scored three goals in the second inning against underdog Garrett Brink, aided by two errors and an RBI single from Cole Keesler.
As it turned out, errors on the field and free passes were the Bears’ undoing.
Frewsburg leveled the game in dramatic fashion in game five when senior Payton Dustin hit a one-off home run to stop Pascucci. It was Dustin’s first of two hits that day.
“He hasn’t hit a ball like that all year,” Haglund said. “It’s his last home game and he’s doing something like that. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
But the Bears’ lead was short-lived.
Nik Manroe took the sixth inning lead from a miss, Drew Langdon hit a single and Pascucci walked to fill bases, ending Brink’s time on the mound. Aidan Gruber came on for relief, but the sophomore ran the next two batters to force two runs. Chase Haglund, the third pitcher of the inning, knocked out the next three batters, but one – Pascucci – scored from a fielder’s pick and extended Portville’s lead to 6-3.
The Panthers hit a crucial run in the seventh court thanks to an RBI single from Langdon. Armed with a four-barrel lead, Pascucci conceded a one-out single to Dustin, who was pushed into second place, stealing third and scoring due to a throwing error. But the Portville left-hander never lost his cool, retiring the last two batters to send the Panthers through to the final against Gowanda.
“[Pascucci]was on our Far West regional team last year and won a section title with our football team, so he was in big places,” said Matz, who witnessed his team knock out Gowanda in the 2022 section finals and lost in 2021 “He doesn’t get nervous. … He’s a kid who’s easy to get excited about.”
Coach Haglund had good reason to be happy despite the defeat.
“I’m super proud of the kids,” he said. “We were the ‘sleeping giant’ and exceeded all expectations. Nobody thought we were the team we were going to be. The kids worked a lot hard in the off-season and proved it. We drove on to Myrtle Beach, earned some respect in South Carolina, and came back here (and we were fine).
“The season has just ended, but for most of these kids it never ends. … We are mostly 10th graders. We’re young and I’m looking for fireworks for the future, you know what I mean?”
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