By Doug Smith
Niagara Gazette — GRAND ISLAND – On Masters Field on Monday, the designated hitter hit back. Slapped in the ego with an intentional walk to the batter ahead of him, John Holody rammed a game-winning double to left and Grand Island staggered to another narrow first-round victory, 6-5 over Williamsville East, opening the Vikings' defense of last season's Far West Regional Class A baseball title.
Although usually seeded far higher than its opponents, Grand Island has made a habit of making the opening round a thrill a minute, including an extra-inning loss to then 16th-seeded Cheektowaga five years ago. And Monday, 15th-ranked East took the Vikings right down to the final voyage.
With the score 5-5, Josh Ungaro singled to deep short to open the home seventh, despite an acrobatic attempt by the East infielder. When, with one out, Ungaro stole second, East chose to intentionally walk Isle pitcher Quinn Corrao. It was only the second pass of the game, both on purpose.
As hundreds of fans voiced hopes for at least a “clean” conclusion, Holody drove one into the gap. Ungaro, leaping down the line, took enough time crossing that Holody reached second, his hit officially ruled a double, one of only two for extra bases of the 26 in the game.
Topping the century mark in pitch count, even though throwing first-pitch strikes to the first 12 batters, Corrao got the win, a 15-hitter with four errors besides. He struck out four, walked none. Just three Williamsville runs were earned. Catcher Chris Foote was Grand Island’s unsung hero, quelling two rallies by throwing out would-be Flame base-stealers.
Ungaro had three hits, Corrao and Nick Soos two each for Grand Island. Dan Lumadue, descendant of a long line of ball-playing Lumadue’s including a former Buffalo Bison, went 4 for 4 for East. Runs scored in eight of the 14 half-innings and only in the Island third did a team go down 1-2-3.