Holley’s ’97 diamond squad became Orleans’ first state baseball semifinalist

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 28 March 2020 at 9:36 am

Contributed Photo – Holley pitcher Pete Selden celebrates the regional win which propelled the 1997 Hawks into the state semifinals.

All five Orleans County varsity baseball teams have earned a berth in the state semifinals over the past 25 years.

However, the distinction of being the first to accomplish the feat belongs to Holley as the Hawks 1997 diamond squad advanced to the state Class C Final Four.

Holley gained a spot in the state playoffs by capturing a third straight Section V title. The Hawks first downed Wellsville 6-4 to win the CC title and then bested Caledonia-Mumford 9-4 for the overall Section V Class C crown and a berth in the state playoffs.

The Hawks scored five quick runs in the first inning to key the win over Wellsville. A double by winning pitcher Keith Topham ignited the decisive scoring burst which also featured a two-run single by Eric Collyier, an RBI single by Brad Williams and a run producing sacrifice by Pete Selden.

However, Holley did have two close calls before reaching the finals. The Hawks nipped rival Kendall 1-0 in the CC quarterfinals as Selden hurled a one hitter with 9 strikeouts. Then in the semifinals the Hawks outlasted East Rochester 10-8 in 9 innings. A double by Jeremy Rowley plated the winning run.

Selden also had a huge day in the Hawks Class C win over Cal-Mum. He hurled a one hitter with 14 strikeouts in five innings of work on the mound and also hit a pair of two-run homers.

Having successfully competed a sectional championship three-peat, Holley kept the momentum by nipping Falconer 3-2 in the Class C Far West Regional.

Selden hurled a 4 hitter with 16 strikeouts to lead the way for the Hawks. He registered two clutch strikeouts to end a Falconer rally in the sixth inning and then two more in the seventh to lock up the victory.

Offensively, the Hawks scored once in the first inning on a single by Karl Gnann, once in the second on a triple by Doug Nicholson and once in the fifth on a triple by Brandon Smith for what proved to be the game winning tally.

That victory advanced Holley to the state Class C semifinals where the Hawks dropped a narrow 5-3 decision to Carle Place from Long Island.

Holley did jump out to an early 2-0 lead by scoring once in the second inning on a single by Williams and once in the third on a home run by Topham.

However, the Hawks lead failed to hold up as Carle Place rallied to first tie the game with two runs in the home half of the third and then take the lead for good with two more in the fourth.

Holley finished the season with a 19-4 record and capped the three year sectional title run with a 53-8 mark. During that run the Hawks claimed the Section V Class B title in 1995 with a 5-0 win over Byron-Bergen and the Class CC crown in 1996 with a 7-1 victory over rival Kendall.