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Spartans Chained up to Win

Williamsville North baseball coach Max Zimmerman will do anything to keep his players excited for the game and each other.

So when the idea of bringing a chain to games and allowing a player to wear it after making a big hit (similar to the University of Miami’s ‘turnover chain’) came up this offseason Zimmerman wasn’t going to shoot it down.

The chain was a big hit in its debut, likely to become a fixture in the dugout going forward.

After hitting a two-run shot to deep left field in the third, Andrew Fairbrother’s teammates rushed out onto the field and made him the first-ever Spartan to wear the chain.

“It means a lot to get that chain,” Fairbrother said. “It’s just a little incentive to go out there and battle. There’s just a great comradery on this team. We’re a really great group of guys.”

Fairbrother’s homer was just one of several big hits for Williamsville North as they came away with a 13-1 opening day win over the Grand Island Vikings in Section VI Baseball action Thursday afternoon.

“He’s our leader,” Zimmerman said. “He’s been working really hard in the offseason. The guys follow him. He’s like a coach on the field, which is awesome.”

Pitcher Bryan Aduddle earned the one-hit win with seven strikeouts in four innings for the Spartans. Jake Anderson got the save giving up one hit in three innings.

“It felt good to get out there,” Aduddle said. “There’s no stress out there when your team is up by eight, ten or 11 runs.”

Cam Zurat hit a two-RBI triple to get things started for the Spartans in the bottom of the first. Aduddle brought home Zurat at the next at bat.

After Fairbrother’s homer, North got back-to-back walks before stringing together three-straight hits, driving in three runs. Conner Hoehman, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate and scored two runs, hit a two-RBI double to cap off the third inning and give the Spartans a 10-0 lead.

Grand Island got their only run of the day an infield error. Easton Speer went from second to home on an overthrow to first base in the fourth.

The Vikings lost eight seniors and seven starters from last year’s team that went 13-3 in the Niagara Frontier League.

“This is the youngest team I’ve ever had,” Grand Island coach Dean Santorio said. “I’m glad we’re playing a good program like Will North. I told our kids to come out here and play the game like you are supposed to. We got a chance to see what we have.”

In the bottom of the inning, Dylan Wanat, who finished 3-for-3 with a run, popped a bases-loaded triple.

Last season, the Spartans got off to a slow start going 4-8 in ECIC I play before upsetting No. 2 seed Clarence in the Class AA quarterfinals. The 2018 campaign ended with a loss to Lancaster in the sectional final.

Williamsville North had t-shirts made in the offseason with the letters ‘SDP’ for Spartan Dog Pile, something they hope to be doing at the conclusion of this year’s Section VI championship game.

“We were thinking let’s put it on a t-shirt and let’s not be afraid of it,” Zimmerman said.

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