Chuck Senn pretty much did it all in his half-century of coaching at Cattaraugus-Little Valley. But Tuesday presented a new experience even for the coaching legend.
He coached against his son in the first Chuck Senn Senior All-Star Baseball Game, featuring the top graduating 12th-graders from all over Western New York. The team coached by Chuck Senn Jr. scored twice in the top of the ninth for a 13-11 win over Team Chuck Senn Sr. at Orchard Park High School.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “Here I am retired, got to coach in a game with all the exceptional seniors from all over Western New York. That’s quite an experience. I never expected anything like that. And to have the game named after me, that’s a humbling experience.”
The back-and-forth game was tied at 11 entering the ninth inning – that would have been the final inning win, lose or tie. But Team Junior took the lead when Bishop Timon’s Sean Hayes scored on a double-steal and then Williamsville North’s Jacob Belote added to the lead with an RBI hit.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hayes said. “I knew a lot of the guys out here so that’s what made it great. Having the best of the best, that’s what you want to see.”
Both teams used a different pitcher in each of the nine innings. Mike Hartman (St. Francis) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the win. Jordan Prince (Orchard Park) recorded the save.
There were also plenty of offensive stars, including Lancaster’s Vinny Stutz, who helped Team junior erase an early 5-1 lead. He tied the game with a three-run triple in the third and then scored on a hit by Alden’s Grayson Schaefer.
“I liked how we came together as a team and got the W,” Stutz said. “It was a great experience playing with all of these guys.”
Lackawanna’s Alex Rodriguez also delivered in the win, with a triple and run in the fourth and two-run single, stolen base and run in the sixth.
But the real star of the show was the legendary coach Senn Sr., who has retired after 604 games in his career with the Thunderwolves. He might have been on the short end of the stick against the team coached by his son, head coach of Orchard Park, but it was a winning evening for everyone involved.
“So well-run, so many different schools represented,” said Senn Sr, who was joined on the coaching staff by West Seneca West’s Jeff Helmbrecht and Depew’s Dennis Crawley. “It was an awesome experience.”
In all, 74 different players were selected to participate in the inaugural game – representing 50 different schools from the area. Not everyone was able to attend but those that did got one last memorable hurrah.
“Next year, if you get selected, I definitely encourage you to come out and play,” Hayes said. “It’s a lot of fun and a good opportunity to show your skills.”
The entire event was organized by WNY Athletic’s Tom Prince. “At about 3:15 this afternoon there were parts of the infield under water,” Prince said. “Nobody panicked, we received some help from Orchard Park Little League giving us some Quick Dry that helped out and everything went off without a hitch.”
Over 250 spectators turned out to watch the game. Among them were a number of local high school and collegiate coaches. Although no hitters cleared the home run fence during the game itself, Tuesday evening was clearly a grand slam for high school baseball.
Frank Wolf contributed to this story
Photo Credit Don Lockwood
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