Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK — For five innings on Wednesday night in the biggest game of the season for the Tonawanda baseball team, Warriors coach John Frank said he didn’t like the way his team played.
But, he sure liked the way the Warriors finished.
Once again, following the trend that has become the identity of this year’s Tonawanda team, the No. 1-seed Warriors pulled off a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over No. 9-seed Springville to capture their second Section VI B1 championship in four years.
Frank said the feeling was hard to describe following a four-run sixth inning that clinched the win.
“It seems like we just wake up and start playing from the fifth inning on,” he said. “We batted around in the sixth and scored four runs to take the lead. I talked to them before we started that inning and said you can erase everything that’s happened the last five innings and start fresh.”
Griffins pitcher Kyle Crotty had control of the game early on, scattering only five hits through the first five innings. But catcher Steven Warthling said it wasn’t that the Springville pitcher was overpowering, the Warriors just needed to get the bat on the ball and get it into play.
So Warthling led by example, leading off the sixth with a single up the middle. Then senior Nick Pullo blasted a single over the third baseman’s head to give Tonawanda life with only six outs remaining.
Patrick Ball laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, but the pitcher couldn’t field the ball cleanly and Ball beat the throw to load the bases.
Bret Kelly drew a walk to tie the game at two runs apiece and then Tim Barnard put the Warriors up for good with a sharply hit ball to short, plating Pullo, who beat the throw home.