Baseball: Gators edge Kane in extra-inning thriller
As Port Allegany designated hitter Ryan Bodamer strode to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, the Gators trailed Kane by a run and were staring squarely at the end of a modest two-game winning streak.
Three swings of the bat – well, two swings and a bunt – changed that in a hurry last Thursday afternoon. Bodamer worked the count full against Wolves reliever Logan Depto, then ripped a double to left field on the payoff pitch. Younger brother Matt followed by driving the next pitch deep to center, taking second as Ryan deftly avoided a desperate tag attempt to plate the tying run. And when the throw to first base on Charlie Buchanan’s bunt missed its mark, Matt came around from second to end the Gators’ wild 10-9 extra-inning victory as his teammates poured out of the dugout to celebrate.
“I was going to give Matt a swing and then get a bunt down,” Port coach Nate Zitnik explained. “Playing for two; I didn’t necessarily want to play for a tie and keep this game going. I wanted to give Matt a chance to swing the bat. After playing through a long varsity season, he knows how to handle pressure, and he came through huge. He traded places with Ryan, and Charlie executed (on the bunt).”
The Gators (9-4) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead as Seth Lowery and Sam Kysor rudely greeted Kane starter Evan Depto with a double-triple combo, but the Wolves used some timely hitting – and a few gifts from their hosts – to pull ahead 7-3 in the fourth inning, reminding Zitnik of an early-season loss to the same team.
“We gave up a lot of runs on silly things; the one inning was riddled with errors,” he said. “This time, we came back. It kind of shows how we’ve grown as a team. We’re still really young, but we talked to the kids about, ‘What do you want to make of this season? Do you want to just win the games you’re supposed to, or do you want to be a playoff team and knock some teams off?’”
The comeback began with Sam Kysor’s solo home run in the bottom of the inning, then continued in the fifth with RBI singles from Buchanan and Ricky Bova before Camrin Stuckey’s two-run shot to dead center gave the Gators an 8-7 lead. The Wolves refused to go away, though, tying the score on Rob Kumher’s second double of the game before pushing the go-ahead run across on an error in the top of the eighth to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
J. D. Haskins got the start for the Gators, combining with Lucas Kline and Stuckey to strike out five and walk five in the win. Kane starter Evan Depto struck out eight and issued four free passes in 4.2 innings of work, with Logan Depto (1 K, 3 BB) coming on in relief.
Port continued to light up the scoreboard in its next outing, piling up eight runs in the top of the fifth inning to notch a 10-0 decision over Cameron County at Moose Park on Monday afternoon. Chad Barnard and Ricky Bova hit back-to-back homers, Lucas Kline added a solo shot, and Seth Lowery chipped in with two doubles as the team scored in double digits for the fourth consecutive game. Garrett Drabert went the distance on the mound, pitching a one-hit gem to notch his second win of the season.
A showdown with Oswayo Valley, 11-1 and ranked second in the latest Olean Times Herald poll, is next on the schedule. The Gators eked out a 4-3 win in the first meeting to hand the Green Wave its only loss of the season, so OV will surely want to exact revenge on its home field Wednesday afternoon. After that, Towanda visits for a rare Saturday-morning start at 11 a.m. before the regular season concludes with rematches against Coudersport and Smethport next week.
Zitnik concluded, “We’ll keep plugging away, and hopefully set ourselves up well for the playoffs.”
Softball: Gators on a hot streak
Rachel Taylor was the only freshman to begin the season in the Port High softball team’s starting lineup, but she’s surely not playing like one. The first baseman’s hot bat helped propel the Gators to victories in each of their last two games, blasting a pair of triples in Port’s 8-4 win over Austin last Thursday, then pounding a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning as the Gators worked overtime to defeat Cameron County 4-2.
Kris-Ann Raymo went 2-for-3 and added a triple against the Panthers, with Becky Andrus, Sarah Brodhun, Jenny Shelley, and Kira Nolder sharing pitching duties. Andrus took the mound again on Monday, striking out five and allowing a single walk to earn the complete-game win against the Red Raiders.
The Gators (4-10) have a busy schedule this week, hosting Oswayo Valley on Wednesday before traveling to Bolivar-Richburg the next night and Sheffield on Saturday morning.
Track: boys win Coudy Invitational, girls take second
The Port High track teams turned in a successful performance at last week’s Coudersport Invitational, with the boys scoring 132 points to outpace second-place Otto-Eldred’s 98, and the girls’ squad coming up a single point shy of the host Falcons, 103 1/3 – 102 1/2.
The boys were led by a quartet of individual performances, as Josh Fox (400, :53.38), Paul Woods (shot put, 43-8 1/2), and Camrin Stuckey (javelin, 165-3 1/2) each recorded a season-best mark to win their events, and Denzel Middleton added a victory in the 300 hurdles.
Port High has taken ownership of the shot circle this season; Seth Lowery posted the second-best throw of the day, and Smethport’s Andy Neatrour edged Brock Taylor by a single inch to prevent the Gator sweep. Other second-place results were turned in by Nick Conway (110 hurdles), Woods (discus), and the 400 and 1600-meter relay teams. The latter team qualified for districts, as did Stuckey and Max Morris in the long jump and Woods in the shot.
On the girls’ side, the 400-meter relay team of Sara Borro, Kelsey Payne, Breanna Foster and Bryanna Evens won their race and qualified for districts with a time of :54.70. While there were no individual champions, Evens ran a close second to Northern Potter’s Rebecca Warriner in all three sprints. Carli Johnston also put in a good afternoon’s work, bringing home second in the pole vault and third in the triple jump, and Payne high-jumped to third place.
Following this week’s dual meet against Otto-Eldred, the Gators head back to CARP Field in Coudersport on Friday afternoon for the North Tier League meet, the last stop before the District 9 Championships on May 21 in Brookville.