Winning starts with a belief that you can get the job done, no matter what the odds are and what the scoreboard reads.
Right now, the Tonawanda Warriors baseball team has that level of believe and the wins to go with it.
Noah Mouton (three runs/six stolen bases) stroked a walk-off RBI single to score. Tyler Buczkowski (two runs) as the Warriors beat Kenmore East 13-12 in a wild Section VI non-league game that was played at Veteran’s Memorial Field in the City of Tonawanda, Friday afternoon.
“We’ve got a young team so I think a big part is these younger kids looking up to us older kids and we’re just not having the mentality of giving up so easily as we did last year,” said Noah Mouton.
“This year we stuck to it. We came in clutch when we needed to. When they made a mistake, we capitalized on it, to be honest.”
Now standing at 2-1, it marked back-to-back wins over their Ken-Ton neighbors as they beat Kenmore West the day before.
The common thread in both games was the positive atmosphere the Warriors had as they never seemed to lose sight of the belief they were never out of it. That was especially evident in the win over Ken-East. The Bulldogs took what appeared to be a commanding 5-0 lead in the fourth inning, but the Warriors answered with five runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to tie it at 5-5.
Tyler Horn’s two RBI hit in the fifth put Ken-East up 7-5. But once again the Warriors would answer as a Noah Mouton tacked on another run when he took home on a suicide squeeze. A favorite weapon of the Warriors.
Tonawanda jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the sixth when they scored six runs after sending 12 batters to the plate.
To the Bulldogs credit they showed fight as they battled back to tie it at 12-12 with a four-run seventh inning.
Ultimately it was a dose of small ball that played a key role in the Warriors securing the win. Tyler Buczkowski reached base on an error then stole home. Josh Mouton laid down a perfect sac bunt that moved Buczkowski over to third.
“He had a good steal there, got him to second. Then the squeeze got him to third,” Josh Mouton said.
“Even though we had an out we still got (Buczkowski) to third and Noah with his shot to left field, the single to finish it off.”
For Ken-East it was also a learning moment. After breezing to a win over CSAT in their NFL opener they stumbled in a non-league game against Albion.
Though Bulldogs coach Les Simon obviously isn’t happy with the final score he did like the sense of compete his team brought. Simon said it’s a matter of keeping that level while cutting down on the mistakes. As they head into the meat of their NFL schedule next week Simon wants them to remember they battled to the end and only lost by one swing of the bat.
“First of all full credit to Tonawanda. That’s a pretty good coach and a pretty good program,” Simon said. “I liked our compete level today, the whole game. Obviously we did everything you cannot do when you have a lead. We walked people, we made errors, but that’s ok. Our goal this week was to win the league game then play a couple of these non league games. Thursday I didn’t like our compete level. Today, I loved our compete level. So tough loss. It’s not enjoyable but we got what we wanted out of it. It’s what we do next week that counts. I liked what I saw from my kids today.”
The Warriors are slated to host Eden next Monday in their ECIC IV league opener. Coach John Frank said he likes what his team has shown in these last two wins over larger schools.
“It just shows you what kind of character we have on this team. That’s a good character win,” Frank said. “(Some) teams that get down five runs like that, they fold it up and hope for the best the next day. These guys were down five then they were down two or three. Then we take the lead, then they come back and tie us in the seventh. We didn’t hang our heads. We went out and did the job.”
Tonawanda catcher Josh Allen also made a huge out when he blocked the plate and tagged a Bulldog runner out at home, preventing Ken-East from taking the lead.
Noah Mouton agreed that notching wins over two quality, larger school teams sends a message that Tonawanda should be taken seriously.
“People were saying that our team was going to lack a lot because how much we lost (from) last year,” Noah Mouton said.
“We may have lost talent, but we’ve got heart. We’ve got young kids that want to do the work so us veterans, the seniors and the juniors, have to pull together and teach them whatever we can. I wanna say don’t count us out. We just beat two big schools.”