By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com, photos by STEVE HARRISON
HORNELL — On Wednesday, the Maple City featured the first of two final renditions this year of the area’s most storied rivalry: Wellsville and Hornell, this time, on the baseball diamond.
Like their meetings this past winter on the basketball court, the Lions and Red Raiders fought tooth and nail to the very end. After an electric start from the hosts in red to grab the game’s first big advantage, Wellsville fought their way back with a bundle of pressure in the late stages, trimming their deficit to as little as one.
But that would be as close as the Lions would get, as Hornell was able to shut the door in the top of the seventh after recording a quick inning to leave a potential game-tying run aboard, sealing up the victory behind a successful complete game tossed by Gates Miller in their 5-4 decision at Maple City Park to take the first game of two that the foes will have this season.
“Karson (Grover) pitched well enough for us to have a chance to win,” Lions coach Tom Delahunt said. “We had just the one bad inning where Hornell scored all five of their runs. We had some errors that contributed towards that, and that gave them a couple of the runs. That inning made us fall apart. We didn’t have enough production at the plate, and we need to be better with those, especially when it comes to those timely situations when we need them.”
The Lions (5-5) were the first to grab the lead right out of the gate behind a sacrifice fly to the outfield from Ty Vogel, plating Cody Costello, who led off the game with a triple. The scoring would freeze in place until the bottom of the second when Hornell countered with all five of their runs, using special teams play on the bases to their utmost advantage to tilt the balance of power in their favor for the remainder of the battle.
Despite it, Wellsville was able to claw their way back to within a stone’s throw of the Red Raiders, cutting their deficit down to a pair with two runs in the top of the third to counter Hornell’s big inning, paced by special teams play of their own after an errant throw over to first base left play.
With Karson Grover and Gates Miller continuing to deal for their respective teams on the rubber, the heat against Hornell would keep climbing in the top of the sixth when Wellsville was presented with their best chance to spring back in front, closing the gap to a single run after an RBI triple from Aidan Riley scored Vogel, who led off the frame with a double.
But the Red Raiders defense was able to keep the Lions away from the plate one last time, as they recorded the final out of the sixth inning at home at a close play at the plate with Riley stealing home and Logan Dunbar at the plate.
From that point forward, the Red Raiders defense was able to keep Wellsville frozen on offense in the top of the seventh with one final quick inning to wrap up the win.
Both teams scored five hits apiece on the attack, with Wyatt Argentieri leading Hornell with a triple. Gennaro Picco and Andrew Davis each chipped in with a hit, while Miller put a bow on his complete game win with five strikeouts and two walks on the rubber.
For Wellsville, Grover also went the distance, fanning one and walking four.
The Lions will look to regroup back over the road on Friday, as they prepare for a tough battle against one of Section V’s elites — the Livonia Bulldogs, in a 5 p.m. first pitch.
Wellsville 102 001 0 – 4 5 2
Hornell 050 000 X – 5 5 2
WLSV – Karson Grover (LP) (CG, K, 4BB) and Alex Green, Trenton Green (3).
HHS – Gates Miller (WP) (CG, 5K, 2BB) and Jacob Ponticello.
More sports news after this Steve Harrison photo gallery:
Arkport-Canaseraga and Avoca-Prattsburgh win, play tonight
Arkport-Canaseraga improved to 5-2 with an 11-1 win over Canisteo-Greenwood on Wednesday night.
With b ad weather expected Friday, the two teams will play tonight at 5 pm. in Prattsburgh instead of Friday.
Avoca-Prattsburgh improved to 10-2 on the season with a 13-0 win over Addison on Wednesday in five innings.
Haden Abbott improved to 6-0 on the mound with a five inning 2-hit shutout. Abbott helped his cause going 2-for-4 with two doubles and 2 RBI’s.
Evan Campbell (three runs) and Connor Hammond (RBI) each had two hits for A-P (10-2).
Chris Abbott (3 RBI’s), Jamel Crowder (2 RBI’s), Sawyer Devoe (2 RBI’s) and Dan Stilson (RBI) had hits and Devin Wakefield had a RBI.
Andrew Jones and Keegan Smith had hits for Addison (5-5).