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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167


Conventional wisdom says that in order to win in baseball, a team must win via good hitting and shutdown pitching.

Try telling that to the Roy-Hart Rams (18-2), who emerged victorious on Saturday in a 12-9 shootout with the Olean Huskies (16-3) to claim the school’s first outright Section VI Class B title.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” coach Mike Tarnowski said. “One through nine, they always fight till the end. We had a different feel this year compared to past seasons, it’s not a bunch of cliques or a group of individuals. It’s one team, and I couldn’t be happier for them right now. It’s such a special feeling.”

Winning the Class B title was especially sweet for the Rams after falling in the B-2 championship game last season. Having won three consecutive regular season championships, the Rams realized that they weren’t enough, and set their sights on loftier goals.

“On day one, we sat in the middle of our gym, looked up at our banners and said ‘Let’s do it,'” Tarnowski said. “We fell short in the B-2 game last year against Fredonia, and it stung. I told the guys to keep that sour taste in your mouths, they did, and they fought to win this one.”

The back-and-forth affair kicked off when Ben Schwab hit an RBI single in the first inning to score Charlie Bruning, but Zach Parr, August Brainard-Brunelle and Jack Dwaileebe each drove home a run to put Olean up 3-1.

The second inning, however, was when the fireworks began. Rams hitters Al Xapsos (two RBIs), Charlie Bruning (two), Noah Hardy and Schwab all contributed at the plate by driving home their teammates on the basepath, and battered Huskies pitcher Dylan Vincent to the point where he was lifted from the contest in the fourth inning in favor of Parr.

With the score now 7-3, Walker Samanca and Hardy (two RBIs) increased the lead to 10-3, and the rout seemed to be on. But the Huskies wouldn’t go quietly.

Darryn Capito and Jarrett Prizel each recorded an RBI single and Brainard-Brunelle scored a run with a double to claw back to within four, prompting the Rams to make a pitching change from Charlie Bruning to his brother Jacob. The Rams then made the score 11-6 in the fifth inning on an RBI from Charlie Brigham, yet the Huskies still wouldn’t quit.

Brainard-Brunelle batted in his third run of the game and Latrell Butler made it 11-8 by driving home a run of his own. Lucas Chapman then tripled in the bottom of the sixth and scored on a sac fly from Nick Crandall to pull to within two.

In the midst of Olean’s surge, one would think that with momentum on the Huskies’ side that there was a possibility that the players in the Rams’ dugout might start to feel some butterflies in their stomachs. Not so, according to Tarnowski.

“Not at all,” Tarnowski said. “We knew that Olean could hit the ball really well, but I had a lot of confidence in our guys that we could hang on for the win. The Bruning brothers showed a lot of tenacity on the mound despite giving up some runs, and we knew we could keep making plays on them. That tenacity paid off.”

The Rams then made a gutsy move. With a man on third base in the top of the seventh, Gavin Boyle executed a perfect suicide squeeze to drive home an insurance run to go up by three. With the increased lead, Jacob Bruning was able to coax the Huskies into grounding into a double play and then struck out the last batter he faced to clinch the win.

“Olean is a really good hitting team so I was trying to hit my spots and I did, and we executed real well and put the ball in play (at the plate),” Jacob Bruning said. “That’s the recipe for winning. We had confidence because we knew we were similar teams, but we just had to outhit them to beat them.”

The school’s first trip to the Far West Regionals will take place on Saturday in Rochester.

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