The Thunderwolves buzzed through the top team in their region Saturday — and now they are going to buzz their coach’s head.
After winning seven of eight games down the stretch to claim the final spot in the Region III playoffs, the Niagara County Community College baseball team swept its sub-regional series with top-seeded and nationally ranked Herkimer CC on Saturday, winning 4-3 and 4-0, and making Sunday’s scheduled tiebreaker game unnecessary.
“I’m so proud of my boys,” said coach Matt Clingersmith, a Niagara Falls native. “The Cinderella story keeps going.”
In the second game, NCCC (32-20) went up against Willie Gabay, a hard-throwing Major League prospect. Clingersmith told his team that if they won, he would let them shave his head at Monday’s practice.
So Clingersmith will be sporting a much different look when the Thunderwolves return to Herkimer for next weekend’s regional championship tournament.
Cal Sluberski keyed both of NCCC’s victories Saturday. He got all but the final out in the opener, striking out seven batters and giving up two earned runs, while hitting a home run in the first inning and driving in another run in the second.
Mike Ellwood hit a two-run home run in the eighth to put NCCC ahead, and Ernie Kirkwood made a diving stab at shortstop to get the final out in the ninth.
“If that gets by him, they’re going to win,” Clingersmith said later.
In the second game, Sluberski hit a three-run double in the second inning, providing an early cushion for starter Mark Gampietro, who pitched five shutout innings. Marcus Cavarello continued the whitewash over the next three innings before Jake Lysiak (Niagara Falls) struck out the side to earn the save.
Jake Meehan had two hits in the first game. Ellwood and Kyle Craig each had two hits in the second.
NU wins a pair
The Niagara baseball team swept a doubleheader with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferene foe Saint Peter’s on Saturday at Sal Maglie Stadium, putting them on a four-game winning streak heading into this afternoon’s series finale.
Drew Fittry (St. Joe’s) started for Niagara in the first game, pitching into the seventh inning and allowing just one run on eight hits. Ryan McCauley hit a two-run double and Wynton Bernard brought McCauley home to give the Purple Eagles a 4-2 win.
In the second game, Jim Fort went the distance, giving up five hits in seven innings, Joel Klock (Grand Island) had three hits and McCauley and Jon Wilson each had two RBIs as Niagara (19-25, 7-12 MAAC) won 7-0.