By RYAN McDONOUGH
ROCHESTER, N.Y. –The Section VI champion Fredonia Hillbillies (17-6) defeated the Section V champion Livonia Bulldogs (23-3), 1-0, in the Class B Far West Regional at Frontier Field on Saturday evening.
Livonia’s Reid VanScoter and Fredonia’s Jarod Burmaster turned in a pitchers’ duel as both went all seven innings and kept the runners off the base paths.
Burmaster – who serves as one of the team’s captains — won the duel, striking out 10 while surrendering just three hits for no runs.
Reid Tarnowski scored the lone and winning run in the top of the seventh on a passed ball.
“We knew they were a solid team, number one in the state for a reason, with a stud on the mound,” said Fredonia’s manager Vince Gullo. “We did just enough to win the game.”
The Hillbillies were the first to threat in the contest as Trey Swartz led off the third inning with a double that dropped in right center. Swartz advanced to third on a ground out, but was left stranded.
Livonia answered in the bottom of the third with a similar threat as Ron Loomis led off the third with a single to right center for the team’s first hit of the game. Loomis later moved up to second on a wayward pickoff attempt from Burmaster, and then worked his way to third on a sacrifice bunt from Bill McDevitt, which served as the first out of the inning. But Burmaster left Loomis 90 feet away as he struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Burmaster sent Livonia down in order with two strikeouts in the fourth inning, but the Bulldogs again posed a threat in the fifth.
Loomis ripped a single up the middle with two outs, as his two hits served as the team’s only hits at the time. Kyle Feldman came on to pinch run for Loomis at first, and made an immediate impact. He stole second base, and advanced to third as the throw down to second was off the mark and went into centerfield. But once again, Burmaster took matters into his own hands and struck out the next batter for the final out of the inning, leaving the winning run at third.
Livonia threatened to break the scoreless tie once more in the bottom of the sixth as Maddux Minton reached on a one-out bunt single. He advanced to second as Burmaster’s counterpart Reid VanScoter worked a walk. Minton moved third on a pop out, but once again, it was Burmaster who put the rally to rest with an inning-ending strikeout.
“My two-seamer was definitely working,” said Burmaster, who also praised his relationship with the coaching staff for the performance. “We were great together, inside, outside, off-speed then fast. I thank my coaching staff for everything out there.”
With the score still knotted at 0-0, Tarnowski worked a leadoff walk off VanScoter in the top of the seventh. Coach Gullo elected to put the bat in Colton Haas’ hands, his other captain. Haas pinch hit for Andrew Coniglio, and laid down a perfect bunt to move Tarnowski to second.
“That was the biggest bunt in our school’s history,” said Coach Gullo, taken aback with emotion.
Tarnowski then advanced to third on a groundout to second base, making himself just the second Hillbilly to reach third base in the game. He would be the last, as a breaking ball from VanScoter got away from his catcher, and Tarnowski slid safely into home to break the tie
“When you’ve got two great pitchers on the mound, you have to get that one run to score, and get it anyway possible,” said Tarnowski. “I slid in, and I was just so excited. I just started jumping.”
That one run was all Fredonia would need. Burmaster sent down the Bulldogs in order in the bottom of the seventh, striking out the first two batters of the inning and working a ground ball to Seth Schrader at second base to complete the win and send Fredonia to the New York State Semifinals.
Burmaster was the starting third baseman his freshman year when Fredonia took a trip to States in 2013, and the other senior captains – Haas and Mike Pucci – were JV call ups.
Coach Gullo praised his team’s leadership after the success.
“The seniors are huge,” he said. “We have younger guys with talent, but the senior leadership gives everyone the confidence to do their job. If someone makes a mistake, we don’t bury anybody. We just keep rolling and keep fighting.”
Fredonia now advances to play Schalmont at Maine-Endwell High School in Binghamton next Saturday. A 1 p.m. first pitch is slated.
“It feels so great to be going back,” Burmaster said. “I am so happy for everyone in here that gets to experience this. I hope they take it all in and enjoy every minute of it.”
VanScoter struck out six Hillbillies and walked just one batter for Livonia.
Loomis earned two hits off Burmaster, and Minton had the third to total all three of Livonia’s hits.
Fredonia had four hits on the day, one apiece from Swartz, Pucci, Vincent Gullo and Lucas Voss.