Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night at Veteran’s Park, the Tonawanda baseball team had erased a 5-1 Gowanda lead and was in position to stage a come-from-behind victory.
But just in case, Warriors coach John Frank told Steven Warthling to get his arm loose in case he needed to pitch in extra innings. Warthling turned back to his coach and said that won’t be necessary.
”He asked me to start warming up in case of extra innings, and I said ‘I don’t need to,’” said Warthling, who went to the plate looking to end the game . “So he told me to make sure of it.”
Warthling ended the game with one swing, a monstrous home run to straight center that cleared the wall as the center fielder almost ran through the fence, to give the Warriors a 7-6 victory over Gowanda.
Gowanda controlled the game for most of the afternoon, but Tonawanda, as it has all season, continued to chip away, and when Nick Pullo scored the tying run in the bottom of the fifth the Warriors knew they had to capitalize on the opportunity.
”I can’t tell you how many times we’ve come back after being down in a game,” Frank said. “Whether it be down to the last inning or last out, we’ve found a way to win and that’s what these kids have been doing all year long.”
Pullo finished the game with three hits, a double and two singles, and Warthling has three RBIs.
The Warriors clinched the ECIC IV regular season championship on Monday with an 11-3 win over Alden. Frank said that it’s only the third time in Tonawanda baseball history that the Warriors have won back-to-back league titles (’76-’77, ‘79-’80).
Frank was thrilled for Warthling after the game, saying the walk off homer is a memory that will last a life time.
”It’s something he’ll never forget — a walk off home run on Senior Night,” Frank said. “It’s something he’ll talk about with his kids down the line. It’s a memory that’s etched in stone.”
Warthling said the Warriors are preparing to see Gowanda again and, with Pullo or Jared Zellner on the hill, is confident they can have similar results.
”We’ve won a lot of close games and we’ve played fundamentally sound,” he said. “I think it’s just important as a league game because we can see them again in the playoffs.”Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @TonaNewsSports.