Tonawanda News — Before Friday's Section VI B1 semifinal game against No. 5 seed East Aurora, Tonawanda baseball coach John Frank told Athletic Director Brad Halgash that this year's team is the "Cardiac Warriors," because of its penchant for late-game heroics.
Well, those Warriors did it again.
Facing Ian Allen, one of the top pitchers in Western New York, Tonawanda only managed five hits but a timely double by Nick Pullo in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the score and a past ball by Allen to Patrick Ball plated Pullo, and the Warriors hung on to win 3-2 to advance to the BI finals next Wednesday.
"We've been doing it all year," Frank said. "There was never really too much nervousness. You have to give credit to Ian Allen from East Aurora, he threw a heck of a game. He's probably the best pitcher we've seen so far and he kept our bats at bay until the sixth inning."
Allen finished with 14 strike outs, but it was Tonawanda pitcher Jared Zellner who stole the spotlight.
After Cody McGregor pitched the first two innings and allowed a pair of runs, Zellner entered and shut the door on the Blue Devils. He pitched the rest of the way, striking out 10 batters in his five innings and three straight to end the game in the seventh.
Frank said the plan was to go to Zellner if McGregor got into trouble and he credited his senior for giving the Warriors a chance to win.
East Aurora coach Steve Sokolski also gave a tip of the hat to Zellner after the game.
"Ian is the best pitcher, I think around. He did good and we can beat anybody with him out there," Sokolski said. "Zellner done good, though. He kept us off balance and we couldn't do much. … It was a good game but unfortunately we didn't beat them."