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Rams top Huskies to claim B title, state berth

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 26 May 2018 at 4:14 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Roy-Hart captains Ben Schwab, Al Xapsos and Jake Bruning hold the championship trophy high after the Rams defeated Olean 12-9 this afternoon at Orchard Park to win the Section VI Class B title and earn a berth in the state playoffs.

Continuing a history making postseason run, Roy-Hart outlasted Olean 12-9 at Orchard Park this afternoon to claim the Section VI Class B baseball championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

“It’s crazy doing it for the first time in school history. Now we’ve got to keep it going,” exclaimed Ben Schwab who led the Rams 14 hit attack with 3 base raps as Charlie Bruning, Walker Samanka, Al Xapsos and Noah Hardy each had 2 and Gavyn Boyle, Jake Bruning and Charlie Brigham 1 each.

The Roy-Hart defense also came up big turning  pair of double plays. The first went from starting pitcher Charlie Bruning to first baseman Ben Schwab in the fourth inning. The second, which helped to lock up the victory, came with one on in the bottom of the seventh and went from Brigham at second to Xapsos at shortstop to Charlie Bruning at first.

Jake Bruning, who came on in relief in the fourth inning, then closed out the victory with a strikeout.

Charlie Bruning bangs out a two-run double for the Rams.

Roy-Hart jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Schwab.

Olean answered with three tallies in the home half of the frame on four straight two out hits including RBI doubles by Zach Parr and August Brainard-Brunelle, who had three doubles on the day.

However, the Rams answered the challenge with a four run scoring burst in the top of the second to regain the lead for good at 5-3. Xapsos banged out a two run single and Hardy and Schwab both had RBI singles during the rally which was set up by an error and a single by Samanka.

Roy-Hart went on to build its advantage to 10-3. Charlie Bruning had a two-run double in the third inning after a hit batter and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Hardy then rapped a two-run double and Samanka an RBI single in the fourth after singles by Schwab and Boyle and a sacrifice bunt by Brigham put runners in scoring position.

Olean came rallying back capitalizing on a pair of errors and two hits to score three times in the home half of the fourth to cut the deficit to 10-6.

Roy-Hart got one of those back in the top of the fifth as Jake Bruning doubled and came home on a double by Brigham to make it 11-6.

The Huskies though continued to battle back scoring twice in the fifth on a double by Brainard-Brunelle and a single by Latrell Butler and once in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Nick Crandall to pull to within two at 11-9.

Roy-Hart got a big insurance run in the top of the seventh as Jake Bruning walked, stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Schwab and came home on a bunt by Boyle to make it 12-9.

The Huskies did get the leadoff runner aboard in the home half of the seventh on a walk but he was quickly erased as Brigham, Xapsos and Charlie Brigham combined to turn the huge double play. Jake Bruning followed up with a clutch strikeout to advance the Rams to their first trip to the state playoffs.

That state competition will begin next Saturday when Roy-Hart faces the Section V champion (either Newark or Midlakes) in the Class B Far West Regional at Frontier Field in Rochester.

Roy-Hart, which improves to 18-2, advanced the the sectional final by downing Niagara-Orleans League rival Medina 4-2 for the Class B2 championship while Olean bested Fredonia 12-8 for the B1 title. The sectional diamond title was the first ever for the Rams.

Roy-Hart’s Jake Bruning, right, gets set to tag Olean’s Latrell Butler in a rundown as Al Xapsos backs up the play.

Roy-Hart players and coaches celebrate the victory. Head Coach Mike Tarnowski is in the center of the celebration.