Tonawanda News — It’s been 34 days since the last time the Tonawanda baseball team tasted defeat.
Winning has become the comfortable norm for the Warriors, and, as senior Jared Zellner put it after Friday night’s semifinal win over East Aurora, nobody on the team is ready for the run to come to an end just yet.
“I didn’t want to go out the way we did last year again,” he said, after the 3-2 win over the Blue Devils in reference to a disappointing Class B-1 semifinal loss in 2012. “We talked about not having a repeat performance from last year. Just go out and get the win.”
The Warriors did just that and are now just one win away from the the B-1 league crown as they face No. 9 seed Springville at 5 p.m. today at Orchard Park. The two teams played a non-league game in early April and Tonawanda pulled off a 6-5 comeback win.
THS coach John Frank dubbed his team the “Cardiac Warriors” after Friday night’s semifinal game because of its tendency to play close games. He said the experiences his Warriors have faced this season have prepared them for every different situation that arises in a game.
“We’ve always found a way to win,” Frank said. “It’s what we’ve been talking about all year and the sense of resiliency there with the kids, the never-say-die attitude, is something winning teams have. Hopefully there won’t be any need for last-minute heroics, but you never know.
Frank sends ace Nick Pullo to the hill. He has a 5-1 record on the season and leads the team with a 1.64 ERA, 60 strike outs and 47 innings pitched.
The heart of Tonawanda’s lineup — seniors Zellner, Pullo and Steven Warthling — have come up big all season long and Frank will lean on them again today.
Zellner pitched five scoreless innings and racked up 10 strikeouts to keep his team within striking distance as East Aurora’s ace Ian Allen tallied 14 strikeouts of his own in the semifinals. Warthling hit a walk off, game-winning home run to straight away center field on May 17 against Gowanda and Pullo has been clutch at the plate and on the mound all season.
Also look for breakout shortstop Ben Stich to leave his finger prints all over the game. The junior scored the Warriors’ first run against East Aurora by stealing home. The run proved to be a huge one as Tonawanda was held without another hit until the sixth inning.
Despite the Griffins’ seed, Frank said the Warriors aren’t taking them lightly. He said Springville is very well-coached and are a scrappy team that will do whatever it takes to win.
“We had two tough games last week and we were able to come through, obviously on the positive end,” Frank said. “The kids are playing well, but we’re certainly prepared for the upcoming game against Springville. They are also playing their best ball of the season, having beat the six seed and two seed, respectively. We know we have our work cut out for us.”
Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @TonaNewsSports.GAME DAY • WHAT: Section VI Class B-1 Championship Game • Who: Tonawanda vs. Springville • Where: Orchard Park High School • When: 5 p.m. today • Coverage: Follow @TonaNewsSports on Twitter for live updates today from Orchard Park on your Warriors. Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @TonaNewsSports.