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Huge First-Inning Propels Williamsville East Past Kenmore East In Baseball Quarterfinals

Williamsville East coach Jerry Gasz has certainly been around long enough to know that come playoff time, the records and seedings can be rendered meaningless by any upset-minded opponent.

So when Kenmore East came to town on Saturday looking to knock off an Amherst-area school for the second straight day, the Flames made sure to douse any hopes of another shocker.

Williamsville East scored 12 times in the first inning and cruised to a 15-4 win over the Bulldogs in a Class A-1 quarterfinal on the Flames’ turf field.

“I have a belief that on any given day, anyone can beat you,” said Gasz, who is his 48th season as Williamsville East’s coach. “I don’t care who you are and who you’re playing, if you let a team stick around long enough, they start to believe they can beat you. And I don’t like my teams letting teams hang around. That (12-run first) may not happen again for the rest of the year, but it happened today and it was fortunate for us.”

Joe Mack opened the scoring with a two-run single up the middle, Drew Elliott followed with a two-run double and then Justin O’Neill tacked on another two-run single. Dillon Lobdell blew it open with a long three-run homer to left and the game was over before most folks got their lawn chairs unfolded.

 “We always want to score quickly because that makes it much easier for the starting pitcher not worrying about one bad pitch that can change the game,” Gasz said.

Top-seed Williamsville East (17-1) will advance to the sectional semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday against rival Williamsville South. The fifth-seeded Billies knocked off No. 4 Kenmore West by a 4-3 count after scoring twice in the top of the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, Kenmore East’s season is over at 5-14. The ninth-seeded Bulldogs posted a 10-3 win over Sweet Home on Friday in the prequarterfinals – but the Flames proved to be a whole different animal.

“That’s a terrific team,” Kenmore East coach Leslie Simon said. “They can really hit the ball. They’re a state-championship worthy team.”

“But I’ll tell you what, I was just as proud of my kids tonight as I was last night,” he added. ” At 12-0 it’s not easy, but they fought every pitch and that game was a life lesson.  We played hard just as hard today as we did last night. We got a great win last night and a great life lesson tonight.”

Elliott finished the day at 4-for-4 with two stolen bases for the Flames. Lobdell had two hits and three runs batted in and Mack later cranked a solo home run in the fifth inning for Williamsville East.

“I returned 17 guys,” Gasz said, “and got six new ones from the JV. So we’re a veteran team, We respect everyone that steps on the field to play us but our kids never quit and we have a lot of talent.”

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