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Frontier baseball outlasts Smith in WMass Division 3 title game

  • Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
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  • Frontier Regional seniors Ryan Hoar, left, Peter Watroba and Rylan Baronas hoist the Div. 3 WMass Championship trophy following their 8-7 win over Smith Academy in extra innings at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Frontier Regional seniors Ryan Hoar, left, Peter Watroba and Rylan Baronas hoist the Div. 3 WMass Championship trophy following their 8-7 win over Smith Academy in extra innings at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
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  • Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski , second from left, wasn't quite quick enough to complete a double play on first base runner Jared Allis of Frontier Regional after forcing out Edward Tsai, left, in the seventh inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski , second from left, wasn't quite quick enough to complete a double play on first base runner Jared Allis of Frontier Regional after forcing out Edward Tsai, left, in the seventh inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, leaves the field as the Frontier Regional Red Hawks and coach Charles Holt, left (16) celebrate their 8-7 win in the Div. 3 WMass championship game played at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, leaves the field as the Frontier Regional Red Hawks and coach Charles Holt, left (16) celebrate their 8-7 win in the Div. 3 WMass championship game played at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, ends the eighth inning with a tag at home on Frontier Regional runner Rylan Baronas, who tried to score on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Bryant to break a 7-7 tie. The Div. 3 WMass championship game went ten innings before a score by the Red Hawks to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, ends the eighth inning with a tag at home on Frontier Regional runner Rylan Baronas, who tried to score on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Bryant to break a 7-7 tie. The Div. 3 WMass championship game went ten innings before a score by the Red Hawks to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frontier Regional junior Niko Ames, center, tosses his bat down after striking out in the the bottom of the seventh inning, leaving the bases loaded and the WMass Div. 3 championship against Smith Academy tied 7-7 in regulation. The Red Hawks eventually scored in the tenth inning to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Frontier Regional junior Niko Ames, center, tosses his bat down after striking out in the the bottom of the seventh inning, leaving the bases loaded and the WMass Div. 3 championship against Smith Academy tied 7-7 in regulation. The Red Hawks eventually scored in the tenth inning to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski misses a grounder by Matthew Byrne of Frontier Regional in the seventh inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski misses a grounder by Matthew Byrne of Frontier Regional in the seventh inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Frontier Regional Red Hawks defeated Smith Academy 8-7 in extra innings to win the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The Frontier Regional Red Hawks defeated Smith Academy 8-7 in extra innings to win the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frontier Regional senior pitcher Samuel Tillona took the mound against Smith Academy in the fifth inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Frontier Regional senior pitcher Samuel Tillona took the mound against Smith Academy in the fifth inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy sophomore Christian Smiarowski, right, celebrates a run by Michael Malloy (19) who scored from third on a hit by Keith Natale in the fifth inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Frontier Regional at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday. It was the third score in a five-run inning for the Falcons, who had been down 7-2, and prompted the Red Hawks to replace their pitcher. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore Christian Smiarowski, right, celebrates a run by Michael Malloy (19) who scored from third on a hit by Keith Natale in the fifth inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Frontier Regional at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday. It was the third score in a five-run inning for the Falcons, who had been down 7-2, and prompted the Red Hawks to replace their pitcher.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Frontier Regional seniors Ryan Hoar, left, Peter Watroba and Rylan Baronas hoist the Div. 3 WMass Championship trophy following their 8-7 win over Smith Academy in extra innings at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski , second from left, wasn't quite quick enough to complete a double play on first base runner Jared Allis of Frontier Regional after forcing out Edward Tsai, left, in the seventh inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, leaves the field as the Frontier Regional Red Hawks and coach Charles Holt, left (16) celebrate their 8-7 win in the Div. 3 WMass championship game played at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore catcher Austin Rogers, right, ends the eighth inning with a tag at home on Frontier Regional runner Rylan Baronas, who tried to score on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Bryant to break a 7-7 tie. The Div. 3 WMass championship game went ten innings before a score by the Red Hawks to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Frontier Regional junior Niko Ames, center, tosses his bat down after striking out in the the bottom of the seventh inning, leaving the bases loaded and the WMass Div. 3 championship against Smith Academy tied 7-7 in regulation. The Red Hawks eventually scored in the tenth inning to win 8-7 at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore shortstop Christian Smiarowski misses a grounder by Matthew Byrne of Frontier Regional in the seventh inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • The Frontier Regional Red Hawks defeated Smith Academy 8-7 in extra innings to win the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Frontier Regional senior pitcher Samuel Tillona took the mound against Smith Academy in the fifth inning of the Div. 3 WMass championship at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore Christian Smiarowski, right, celebrates a run by Michael Malloy (19) who scored from third on a hit by Keith Natale in the fifth inning of their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Frontier Regional at the University of Massachusetts Earl Lorden Field Sunday. It was the third score in a five-run inning for the Falcons, who had been down 7-2, and prompted the Red Hawks to replace their pitcher. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Frontier Regional senior outfielders Matthew Byrne, top left, and Jared Allis leap high into the air to celebrate with their Red Hawk teammates after Byrne hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run in their Div. 3 WMass championship game against Smith Academy at UMass Earl Lorden Field Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

AMHERST — Niko Ames gained some personal redemption Sunday afternoon and in the process helped his Frontier Regional baseball team regain the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title.

After leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning, the junior doubled to lead off the bottom of the 10th and scored the winning run as the Red Hawks defeated Smith Academy 8-7 in 10 innings at Lorden Field at the University of Massachusetts.

“I knew I had to put the team in a position to win the game, especially after my previous at-bat,” Ames said. “I wanted to get on base any way I could and I was so happy after that double. And I’m ecstatic we were able to pull it off.”

With one out and Ames on third, senior Matt Byrne hit his second sacrifice fly of the game to clinch the program’s first sectional championship since 2008.

“I swung at the first pitch, and I’m not even sure if it was a strike,” Byrne said. “But we practice getting the ball into the outfield in that situation, and that was my only goal. Thankfully, I hit it far enough.”

Byrne enjoyed a 2-for-3 afternoon and scored a run after Frontier coach Chuck Holt moved him up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

“These guys are very mentally tough, so moving the lineup around doesn’t throw them off at all,” Holt said.

No. 3 Frontier (18-6) advanced to the state Division 3 semifinals against central Mass. champion Hopedale (20-3) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Tivnan Field in Worcester.

“It’s a tremendous feeling, and I’m so lucky to be in this position,” Holt said. “This game was both exciting and exhausting. But what a great day. I’d rather by doing this than just about anything.”

Ames (two runs) went 3-for-6 on the day, including an RBI single in the fourth. Ryan Hoar, Sam Tillona, Jared Allis and Sean Doyle each drove in one run, while Eddie Tsai scored twice.

“Part of me was a little scared, but with all the chances we had I knew at some point we’d push one across,” Ames said. “This game was such an emotional rollercoaster, and we hadn’t had many close games this season.”

Senior third baseman Rylan Baronas did not have had a hit, but his perfect sacrifice bunt moved Ames to third and set up Byrne’s heroics.

“To have a leadoff double was huge, and to have such a good baserunner as Niko was even better,” Holt said. “Then Rylan, who’s been arguably our best hitter this season, sacrifices him over, which just shows everyone’s willingness to put team over stats.”

The No. 5 Falcons (20-4) erased deficits of 3-0 and 7-2 with a five-run fifth inning, sparked by run-scoring hits from Mike Molloy and Keith Natale.

“I think everyone in our locker room thought we could get to this game,” Smith coach Jeff Pluta said. “Even though we didn’t have many older kids, they knew we had something special just a few weeks into practice. So I’m not at all surprised we got to this point. These guys love baseball, they come every day to work and they have a lot of fun together.”

Tillona came on in relief of Peter Watroba with one down in the fifth. The senior lefty allowed an inherited runner and one of his own to score, then posted five scoreless and hitless frames, which allowed Frontier numerous opportunities to win.

“We’re a senior-based team and we’ve been to this point before,” Tillona said. “I knew our guys would get it done if I did my job. This is definitely redemption for us after (losing in the final) last year.”

However, Smith Academy pulled off a pair of great escapes. In the seventh, starting pitcher David Longstreeth (seven-plus innings, six strikeouts) was one ball from walking in the winning run. Down 3-0 in the count, the sophomore right-hander came roaring back with three straight strikes against Ames to end the inning.

“I thought David did a nice job of calming down after giving up seven runs,” Pluta said. “He settled back in but we had him on a pitch count, so we had to lift him.”

The play of the day occurred in the eighth, after three walks loaded the bases for Frontier again. With one down, Brandon Bryant lifted a fly ball to center. Following the catch, Kevin Banas unleashed a perfect throw to the plate to nail Baronas.

“We moved Kevin from shortstop to center because we already have a pretty good shortstop” in Christian Smiarowski, Pluta said. “As (Banas) showed on that play, he’s got a tremendous arm.”

Natale went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored for the Falcons. Molloy (two runs, RBI) and Jojo Afflitto (RBI, run) added two hits apiece.

“I give a ton of credit to Smith Academy,” Holt said. “What a gritty, gutsy team they have. It was a great comeback by them, being down five that late in the game in this atmosphere. They have tremendous character, so I’m really proud of my boys to beat them.”

Frontier ace Peter Watroba pitched well through four innings but ran into major trouble in the fifth. He gave up six runs (four earned) on 10 hits with a pair of strikeouts.

The teams combined for six errors on the day, leading to three unearned runs.

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

Baseball

Frontier 8, Smith Academy 7 (10)

Smith Academy 000 250 000 0—7 10 3

Frontier 021 400 000 1—8 10 3

WP - Tillona; LP - Natale

Records: Frontier (18-6); Smith Academy (20-4)

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Sam Tillona shines for Frontier in relief

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

AMHERST — A lat muscle injury kept Sam Tillona off the mound for the first month-plus of the season. But in the biggest spot of his career Sunday, Tillona showed off his health and dynamic stuff in a key relief performance that led to Frontier Regional’s 8-7 10-inning win over Smith Academy in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title …

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