Tigers ‘9’ had a Golden Era during the ’50s

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 23 April 2020 at 10:07 am

Contributed Photo – Members of Lyndonville’s 1953 Section V Class C championship are shown here with their league and sectional trophies. In front are Norman Skinner, Jon Postle, Ronnie Mapes and Carl Woods. In the middle row are Tim Bowersox, Stanley Church, James Enderby, John Church, Richard Kenyon and Gordon Joy. In the top row are Larry Joy, James Marcks, Coach Arnold Hartsen, Larry Meland and James Costich.

Putting together an outstanding run of four sectional championships made the decade of the 1950’s a truly Golden Era for the Lyndonville High baseball program.

The decade saw Coach Arnold Hartsen’s Tigers capture  Section V titles in 1951, 1953, 1955 and 1959.

In 1951 Lyndonville and Clyde battled to a 2-2 tie in an 11 inning marathon at McArthur Stadium in Batavia before Section V officials declared the teams Class B co-champions. The sectional title was the first in school history for the Tigers.

The Tigers tied the game with a run in the seventh inning but neither team could cross home plate again over the next four innings before the contest was halted and co-champions declared.

Lyndonville needed two come-from-behind wins to reach the finals.

First, the Tigers erased an 8-4 deficit by scoring five times in the fourth inning and three in the fifth to key s 12-10 quarterfinal win over York. Then in the semis the Tigers scored four runs in the fifth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit and key a 5-4 win over Bolivar.

Dean West was on the mound for the Tigers in both the semifinals and finals.

Two years later a pair of second inning runs proved to be just enough to give Lyndonville a 2-1 win over Naples and the 1953 Class C championship.

A squeeze bunt by Norm Skinner plated what proved to be the game winning run for the Tigers after a fielders choice play of the bat of Gordy Joy drove in the first tally.

Ronnie Mapes earned the win on the mind allowing three hits and striking out five.

Lyndonville advanced to the title contest by defeating Hemlock 11-0 in the quarterfinals and Andover 5-1 in the semis.

Mapes hurled a no hitter with 16 strikeouts against Hemlock and a two hitter with 12 strikeouts against Andover.

Lyndonville’s string of every other year title campaigns continued in 1955 as the Tigers blamed Cuba 3-0 to claim the Class C championship.

Mapes capped off an outstanding varsity career by hurling a three hit shutout with 17 strikeouts. Mapes also drove in what proved to be the game winning run with a single in the first inning.

In the quarterfinals, Lyndonville blanked York 2-0 as Mapes threw a one hitter with 15 strikeouts. Two bases loaded walks in the sixth inning drove in the Tigers runs.

The semifinals then saw Lyndonville down Red Creek 4-1 as Mapes hurled a two hitter with 12 strikeouts. A squeeze bunt by Jon Postle plated two quick first inning runs for the Tigers which later locked up the win with two in the top of the seventh as Larry Meland tripled.

Lyndonville capped off the memorable decade by capturing the 1959 Class C championship with a 14-1 romp over Belmont.

Tom Zapf, Bob Long and winning pitcher Willie Long each had two hits for the Tigers which scored four runs in the first inning and seven in the fourth. Zapf’s hits included a home run and Willie Long’s a triple.

The Tigers had a much closer encounter in the quarterfinals where they nipped Romulus 2-1 in nine innings. Danny Taylor slid home with the winning run in the ninth as he scored from second base on a single by Mike Zapf. Willie Long earned the win on the mound allowing four hits and striking out 14.

In the semifinals, Lyndonville trimmed Cuba 6-4 as a big five run fifth inning keyed the win. A two-run double by Jim Thorpe and an RBI single by Mike Zapf highlighted that decisive uprising. On the mound. Willie Long scattered seven hits and struck out 15.

After this surge of four titles in a span of just nine years Lyndonville would have to wait some 23 years before claiming another sectional crown when the 1982 Tigers downed Cuba 2-0 for the Class C championship.