Holley seeks berth in state baseball playoffs on Tuesday at Dwyer Stadium
When Holley Coach Jason Cole was planning the schedule for the Hawks annual preseason baseball trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in April one team he wanted to play was Geneseo, which made the sectional finals last year, was returning a veteran squad and was a potential major postseason foe for the Hawks.
“I told our players then that we’ll play them in the first game and again in one of our last games,” said Cole whose prediction was right on target as Holley will face Geneseo for the Section V Class berth in the state playoffs at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. The winner will then take on Section VI champion Holland in the Far West Regional on Saturday.
Geneseo emerged with a 10-0 win over Holley in that season opener at Myrtle Beach.
“We had some injuries then so we’ll be a much different team this time,” said Cole.
Holley advanced to the state qualifier by defeating East Rochester 6-2 on Friday for the Class CC championship, the Hawks first sectional title since 2009.
The senior duo of Joey DeFelice and Lucas Silvis provided the big spark offensively for Holley banging out three hits each and driving in a total of five runs. DeFelice’s hits included run producing triples in both the first and sixth innings while Silvis had RBI singles in the first, sixth and seventh innings.
DeFelice also did yeoman work on the mound in relief striking out each of the 10 batters he faced over the final three innings. Sophomore Dylan Hillabush hurled the first four innings scattering six hits and striking out five.
“It all comes back to our four seniors,” said Cole in pointing to DeFelice (shortstop/pitcher), Silvis (first base/right field), Jon Bower (shortstop/third base/pitcher) and Josh Porter (catcher) as the keys to the Hawks success. “They’ve been working out in the weight room since October and the other kids saw that kind of commitment. It really showed the rest of the team what it takes to win. It’s a life lesson and that kind of commitment deserves to get rewarded.”
Bower looks to get the starting assignment against Geneseo which bested Bolivar-Richburg 8-6 Friday to claim the Class C crown.
“We’re hoping to get the same kind of sequence in our pitching against Geneseo as we did against East Rochester with Dylan and Joey,” said Cole.
The appearance in the Section V state qualifier will be the third for Holley which defeated Caledonia-Mumford 9-4 in 1997 and lost to Bath 8-3 in 2009. The Hawks 1997 squad went on to defeat Falconer 3-2 in the Far West Regional to advance to the state semifinals where they dropped a narrow 5-3 decision to Carle Place.
A lucky totem and gnome
Athletes are often superstitious, doing the same thing before each game, before each free throw, before each at bat, and the Holley players are no exception.
During Holley’s preseason trip to Myrtle Beach the Hawks acquired a souvenir totem which has become the Hawks lucky charm along with a garden gnome adorned with a pink baseball cap that belonged to the late aunt of one of the Hawk players.
The totem and gnome are in the dugout with the players at every game and to date as the Hawks Genesee Region League Division 1 title, Section V Class CC championship and 18-4 record seems to indicate their luck has been with them.
And the totem and gnome were proudly held high as the Hawk players celebrated their Class CC title victory on Friday.
“We all chipped in to get the totem at Myrtle Beach,” beamed a happy Bower after the title game. “And it worked.”
To be sure the lucky totem, gnome and cap will have a prominent place in the Holley dugout when the Hawks take on Geneseo in the Class C state qualifier Tuesday at Dwyer Stadium.