PORTVILLE — Mike Matz had been saying all along that this was now a different Salamanca team.
His Portville squad had handled the Warriors in two previous matchups, winning 14-3 and 16-6 in six innings. Since the latter, however, Salamanca (3-3 at the time) had won five in a row, each essentially more convincing than the last.
On Monday, the Panthers saw firsthand just how much better the Warriors have gotten. But they survived that scare.
Ryan Stillman, the No. 9 hitter, produced the winning run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly as Portville escaped with a 6-5 walkoff victory in a CCAA I East rematch. It was a rare pressure-packed game for the Panthers, who entered the day 11-0, with all but two of those wins coming by 10 runs or more.
“It’s like we told the guys, this was a playoff atmosphere,” Matz said. “I’m glad we had a game like this. Salamanca’s a quality opponent. They made big pitches when they needed to. We loaded the bases three times with one and we didn’t cash in on any of them. I don’t think it was us not coming through — I think it was Salamanca did a nice job pitching.
“But that’s the story. It was a great time to be part of a really good game.”
Grant Sharp went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI as part of a four-run fifth inning, which helped the Panthers go from down 4-1 to up 5-4. Maxx Yehl posted a double and two runs and Nathan Petryszak and Michael Cole combined for a two-hitter as Portville also overcame four errors.
“Grant … he really likes baseball, he’s a great kid,” Matz said. “We were having a hard time finding a spot for him. He’s a first baseman, but he was kind of stuck in the depth chart. We’ve had him DH for the last few games.
“On that two-run double, he actually got hit by the pitch (right) before, but the umpire rightfully held him there because he said he leaned into it. The next pitch, he sends out to left-field that one-hops the fence. It’ll be hard to pull him out of the lineup now with how he’s playing.”
Zaron Tucker and Jaxson Ross held the potent Panthers to just seven hits and each helped his own cause by doubling. Harley Hoag scored twice for the Warriors.
Ellicottville 1, North Collins 0
ELLICOTTVILLE — Lucas Marsh fanned 12 (3 walks) in a complete-game, two-hit gem as Ellicottville pulled out a pitchers’ duel.
Logan Grinols drove home Ryan DeKay with an RBI single in the second and the run held up for the Eagles. DeKay, who finished with two hits, had singled and stolen second. Clayton Rowland posted a double in the win. Ellicottville threatened in the sixth and Wyatt Chudy was thrown out at the plate in the seventh.
“We settled in (after two first-inning errors),” ECS coach Chris Mendell said. “Lucas was sharp; it was his first complete game of the year and the first game where he really had his offspeed stuff under control — he was throwing a change-up, curve, that was the difference for him tonight.”
Tony Puckhaber struck out nine while scattering five hits and a walk for North Collins.
“He was on point also,” Mendell said. “It was definitely a pitchers’ duel. We were fortunate to scratch that run out.”