Weekly Feature



2017-05-17 / Sports

Kenmore West baseball wins first league title since 1993

Sports Reporter
TAYLOR NIGRELLI


Dom Schmidt of Kenmore West starts off the second game of a double-header with Kenmore East with a strikeout. Schmidt got the win as the Blue Devils split the evening. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Dom Schmidt of Kenmore West starts off the second game of a double-header with Kenmore East with a strikeout. Schmidt got the win as the Blue Devils split the evening. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the Kenmore West baseball team has won the NFL Title. The Blue Devils clinched their first regular season league title since 1993 with a 7-2 win over Grand Island Saturday.

Ben Serrano led the way, going 3-3 with a grand slam and stolen base. Kyle LaPlate was 2-3 with an RBI, Scott Hanesworth was 2-3 with an RBI and Chris Mang got his first-ever varsity win.

“I’m very proud of the kids,” Kenmore West coach John Haynes said. “It’s been a tough season with the weather. The kids have been through a lot of adversity. This week alone we played seven games in six days. Hats off to the kids. They did a great job fighting through it. They were a little exhausted Saturday, but they came out and finished it out and won the title for their school and themselves. It was great to see. It was a long time coming.”

The game capped off a busy week when the Blue Devils played seven games in six days. They started things off with a 9-2 win over the Charter

School for Applied Technology. Andrew Fron threw a complete game four-hitter, striking out nine. La- Plante went 2-3 with a double and two runs. Adam Pray and Serrano had two runs apiece.

“We got good pitching again; we put the ball in play. We hit people in,” Haynes said. “People came through when they needed to.”

The next day Kenmore West got a 3-0 win over Niagara Wheatfield. After holding a 1-0 lead for much of the game, the Blue Devils scored two more late to put the game away. Zach LaPlante pitched a two-hit shutout. Serrano had an RBI double. Dom Schmidt was 2-3 with two stolen bases.

Wednesday featured a double header showdown with crosstown rival Kenmore East. The Bulldogs took the first game, 5-4, but West fired back with a 5-1 victory in the nightcap. Schmidt pitched a complete game to get the win, allowing two hits and striking out 10. Serrano had a triple and three RBIs.

Owen Green pitched a complete game Thursday to lead the team to a 7-1 win over Niagara-Wheatfield. He allowed five hits and struck out three, earning his first varsity win. Zach LaPlante went 3-4 with two runs. Hanesworth was 2-3 with two stolen bases. Pray was 2-4 while Rich Fries had a two-RBI double.

The Blue Devils dropped a game to Niagara Falls Friday before winning the clincher against Grand Island Saturday.

“I’m real excited for the kids,” Haynes said. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s been a long week and they’ve done a great job with dealing with playing seven games in six days. It’s a credit to them. I also want to give credit to my two assistant coaches and the JV program. Everything is built from the bottom up. They’ve done a great job.”

The key to the team’s success, especially in busy weeks such as these, is pitching depth. While the top of the order has been as good as expected, several non-regulars have also stepped up to contribute.

“The biggest thing is we’ve gotten great pitching,” Haynes said. “With weeks like this where you’re playing so many games, you need to have enough arms. This week we got two wins out of juniors that haven’t pitched much this year. They got their opportunities and threw very well both games. Owen Green pitched against Niagara-Wheatfield. Chris Mang pitched against Grand Island. That was the first time he was on the mound all year. He went five and one-third.”

The team will now begin prepping for the postseason. The Blue Devils will have a first-round bye and won’t play until early next week. The goal of winning a league title has been realized. The team is now focused on winning a postseason title. The key is for the pitching staff to continue to perform the way it has all season.

“The kids achieved the first goal of winning the league title. Now they want to get a blue patch at sectionals,” Haynes said. “It’s been the key for us all year to have enough pitching. And we’ve had enough pitching. Those two young kids both came through this week. They were not on the mound very much. Obviously, the way the weather has been, we’ve needed to use them. They both came through when they needed to. Owen Green actually went the distance in his game. It was both of their first varsity wins.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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