’99 was a special spring on the diamond for both the Albion and Kendall baseball teams
Over the past nine years three local teams have advanced to the state baseball semifinals – Lyndonville in 2011, Roy-Hart in 2018 and Medina in 2019.
However, prior to that there was one special spring in which two Orleans teams advanced to the state diamond semis – that was in 1999 when Albion and Kendall both earned spots in the Final Four.
The state semifinal appearances were the first in program history for both Albion, which went 21-1 on the campaign and Kendall which went 22-3.
Albion, which captured the Niagara-Orleans League title with a 14-0 record, went on to claim the Section VI Class B1 crown by downing Williamsville South 9-5.
However, the Purple Eagles needed to earn a narrow 3-2 win over Grand Island in the semifinals to gain a shot at the title. A two-run single by Johnnie Wynn in the fifth inning provided the margin of victory backing the 3 hit, 10 strikeout pitching effort by Kyle Johnson.
Albion then captured the overall Section VI Class B title and a berth in the state playoffs by romping past Cheektowaga 15-1. Matt Gould and Kyle Johnson both had 3 hits, Pat Fitzsimmons a two-run double and Soren Johnson 2 hits and 4 RBI. Gould’s hits included a three-run homer.
Keeping the momentum, the Purple Eagles the outlasted Wayland-Cohocton 10-5 in 8 innings in the Far West Regional.
Wayland-Cohocton scored twice in the seventh to knot the contest at 5-5 but Albion answered right back with five in the eighth to claim the win as Mike McCabe had a two-run single and Fitzsimmons a two-run double.
That advanced Albion to the state semifinals where the Purple Eagles usually high scoring offense fell quiet in a 9-1 loss to Johnson City.
Albion managed only two hits and struck out 16 times in the loss which saw Johnson City scored four quick runs in the first inning.
Kendall bested Letchworth 6-2 to win the Section V Class CC title and then used a four run first inning scoring burst to key a 7-1 victory over Red Jacket to claim the overall Section V Class C title and a berth in the state playoffs.
The Eagles then blanked Frewsburg 4-0 in the Far West Regional as Mike Miles hurled a 2 hitter with 9 strikeouts. A three run first inning provided all the offense the Eagles would need as Tyler McGonigal had an RBI single and Jason Miles a run producing double.
The victory propelled Kendall into the state semifinals where Greenwich rallied for a 9-3 win over the Eagles.
Kendall again jumped out to a quick first inning lead on a double by McGonigal. The Eagles upped the lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth on a bases loaded walk. However, Greenwich came battling back with 5 runs in the home half of the fifth highlighted by two triples and a double to key the victory and advance to the state finals.
Editor’s Note – 2020 high school Spring sports previews will resume on Monday.