Just because they were a No. 9 seed facing the No. 8 seed didn’t mean the Kenmore East Baseball team couldn’t play the underdog role.
The Bulldogs embraced the role of their namesakes, ‘barking’ from the bench throughout the game.
The energy carried over from the bench to the plate as Kenmore East powered their way to a 10-3 victory over the Sweet Home Panthers in a Section VI Class A1 pre-quarterfinal game Friday afternoon.
The Bulldogs move on to play at No. 1 seed Williamsville East Saturday at 5 p.m. in the A1 quarterfinals.
For Les Simon, who has been in a number of pre-quarterfinal games as head coach of the Bulldogs, he was secretly glad they were on the road Friday.
“There’s a lot of pressure being the home team in this game,” Simon said. “We were the underdog. We showed up punched the other team in the mouth and all the sudden the fear of doubt came in for them.”
After missing with a strong cut on the first pitch, Bulldogs’ senior Joe Watson blasted the second pitch to left-center field for a triple. Dan Spors brought him home on a single on the next at-bat.
Mario Ruggiero capped off the inning with a triple of his own that scored two more runs for Ken East.
Sweet Home answered back in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore Austin Romanowski pounded one in deep center for a solo home run.
The bats stayed hot for the Bulldogs in the second as Alex Murdie, Watson, Spors and Nate Murdie all hit singles before senior Vincent Lodestro pounded the ball to right field for a three-run homer to give his team a 7-1 lead.
The Panthers added a run in the third when Shawn Romanowski drove in Austin but most of the damage had already been done.
“We came in flat and we never recovered,” Sweet Home coach Jon Campolo said. “(Ken East) came and they hit the ball and our guys weren’t producing like we’ve been in the past.”
The Romanowski brothers shined for the Panthers, making plays both at the plate and in the field.
“They’re sophomores and they played like they’re seniors,” said Campolo, who noted that Shawn ends the season on a 12-game hit streak. “Both of them are doing extremely well and I’m going to look to them to be the leaders next year.”
The Bulldogs offense was on fire Friday as they totaled 12 hits, including four triples.
Watson led the pack going three for four from the plate with two triples and scored three runs. On the defensive side, Watson made an unbelievable play when he stretched back to catch the ball in deep center field as the Panthers left two men stranded on in the sixth.
“He was lights out today,” Simon said of Watson. “He’s our spark. The kids love him. Joey and Dan (Spors) were our one-two punch today.”
Spors also had impressive outing going three for three with an error, three RBIs and three runs scored.
Aidan Bova was solid on the mound throwing a six strikeout, complete game for the Bulldogs.
Lodestro (right) and Watson (left) after the game
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