By Aaron Garland
Niagara Gazette — The Grand Island baseball team has just two returning players from last year’s state finalist team on its roster. Lucky for them, Quinn Corrao is one of them.
The junior tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts in the Vikings’ 7-1 victory over Niagara Falls on Monday at Grand Island High School.
“You’re going into the seventh at 64 pitches, obviously you’re pitching a heck of a game,” Vikings head coach Dean Santorio said. “He had command of his fastball, but his breaking ball was around the plate and he threw it for a lot of strikes. It’s nice to know that your No. 1 guy can be that efficient and when you know he’s cruising, you don’t have to worry about going to a second guy, which is nice.”
Wolverines shortstop Mike Colosi hit a two-out single in the top of the first and Corrao settled in from there, retiring the next 16 batters. Corrao attributed his outing to good team defense, which included an on-the-run shoestring catch by right fielder Jake Lawley in the fourth.
“That’s how it’s been all year. I’m not a strikeout pitcher, it’s just throw the ball, get strikes and let the defense do the work,” Corrao said. “They’ve been reliable so I knew that they could come through.”
“He kept us off stride,” Wolverines head coach Joe Contento said. “His curve ball was really throwing for strikes, he threw it in every count. In high school, when you can do that, it’s going to be a tough game.”
Niagara Falls starter Joe Colosi, who finished with eight strikeouts, appeared ready for a pitcher’s duel with Corrao after getting through a tough first inning in which he allowed two runs on three hits. Starting with the last out in the first, he set down six straight, striking out five Vikings looking in the process.
But the Wolverines (2-2 NFL) were not as sharp in the field. That, along with timely hits, directly led to several Vikings’ runs.
“They got a few runs on a couple errors that really cost us and kind of put the game out of reach," Contento said. "When you have two No. 1’s like that going after each other and you have a little trouble, that’s usually how the game goes”
With two outs in the third, Grand Island (4-3, 3-1) broke the game open with its bottom half of the order. Catcher Chris Foote walked to start the rally and Lawley, the sixth batter, drove him in with a double deep to the gap in left-center.
The inning seemed to be coming to an end when third baseman Josh Ungaro hit a towering pop-up just in front of the mound. The whole infield converged on the ball, which dropped safely on the grass. With no one covering home, Lawley scored from second.
Designated hitter John Holody then roped an RBI double down the right field line to cap off the three-run third and put the game out of reach at 5-0.
Ungaro finished with game-highs in RBIs (two) and hits (3 for 3), while Lawley also didn’t record an out, going 2 for 2 with a walk. Leadoff hitter Nick Soos also registered a pair of hits, and Santorio was pleased with the balanced offense.
“I give credit to the top and bottom of our order, all the way through the lineup somebody came up with a big hit,” Santorio said.
It didn’t seem to matter to Contento that Grand Island’s team now looks much different than the state runner-up squad from 2012.
“Grand Island always reloads, they’re always good every year, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Contento said.