Central's Sciera redeems self, drives in game-winning runs against Maryvale
BY: Tom Gallagher | April 29, 2014
Matt Sciera was upset with himself.
In the sixth inning of a scoreless game against crosstown rival Maryvale, Sciera, Cheektowaga Central’s first baseman, dropped a fly ball on the infield grass with one out and no runners on. Catcher Matt Bartnik’s desperation throw to first misfired, the ball went out of play and the Maryvale runner was awarded second base.
Three pitches later, that runner crossed home on a RBI single to left and Cheektowaga was down, 1-0.
“I knew I messed up,” Sciera said.
However, as Warriors’ coach Jeff McGill said, physical mistakes are bound to happen in baseball. What’s important, McGill noted, is how a player responds to those mistakes when they’re made.
Sciera responded in a big way.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, the junior lefty ripped a second-pitch fastball to right, driving in a pair of runs — the tying and go-ahead scores — in the Warriors’ 2-1 win over the Flyers Monday (April 28) at Cheektowaga Central.
“That’s all we can ask for,” McGill said after the game. “He had a rough day at the plate up until then, but he came through when we needed him and I think that’s going to be a huge confidence booster for him moving forward.”
Added Cheektowaga senior Jay Malkowski, who earned the win on the hill: “Baseball is a funny game. You make a mistake right there and you can just turn around just like that and make a clutch play. That was a solid hit.”
Malkowski knows a thing or two about solid. In addition to scoring what proved to be the game-winning run on Sciera’s single, the senior pitcher tossed a complete-game four-hitter and struck out six.
It was the kind of performance his Warrior teammates have grown to expect from him.
“He’s been awesome all year,” Sciera said. “He gives us seven innings pretty much every game he pitches. He’s been great.”
“We know with Jay, he brings confidence for himself but I think he brings confidence to the team,” McGill added. “When we’re not hitting and we’re not going, he’s going to keep their runs down and limited and give us a chance in the end.
“Every time he goes on the mound, we know we have a chance to win as long as we produce runs.”
Until Sciera’s two-run hit, producing runs was a chore for Cheektowaga. The team struggled mightily to solve Maryvale pitcher Joel Krywcun, a junior. Krywcun allowed just two hits through the first five innings and four overall. Additionally, he struck out seven batters in what was a quality start in spite of the loss.
Flyers’ coach Kurt Hansen told his southpaw after the game that it was a lack of run support, not him, that was to blame for the defeat.
“You have to have more run support,” Hansen said. “He pitched well. He placed the fastball well, he kept it down on some of their key hitters and, in general, he mixed it up well.”
The one run Maryvale did score came in the top of the sixth. After Sciera’s fielding error had Krywcun on second, Flyers’ No. 3 hitter Anthony Hernandez drove a hard-hit ball through the hole on the left side.
Malkowski kept them otherwise in check.
Senior Alex Wodarczyk led Central at the plate with two hits, including a single that loaded the bases and set the stage for Sciera’s heroics. Sciera and junior Joe Perillo had the team’s only other hits and Malkowski and senior Mike Kowal had a run apiece.
McGill praised the play of senior catcher Matt Bartnik, who made a pair of clutch plays defensively, one of which came in the top of the seventh. A third-strike breaking ball got away from him, but he hustled to the ball and threw the runner out, thwarting the drop-third free base.
“I’ll take that play behind the plate,” McGill said. “Finding the ball, turning, firing the ball 90-plus feet. So I want to credit him for keeping his head in it and making a huge play.”
Krywcun, Hernandez, Zach Nelson and Eric Graham all had hits for Maryvale, which dropped to 1-3 in ECIC III action.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, to lose late in the game like that,” Hansen said. “We had another loss like that in the bottom half of the seventh inning at Pioneer. Same thing. Up a run, couldn’t close it out.”
Central, on the other hand, improved to 3-2 in league play and 5-2 overall. Malkowski said that winning in dramatic fashion may serve as a turning point for the Warriors’ season.
“That’s a big win,” he said. “Just maybe one that will boost our season, maybe turn it around here and get some wins.”
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