GOWANDA - Sam Pepe was thrown into a tough situation and responded to help the Dunkirk Marauders (1-1, 4-3) hold off the Gowanda Panthers (1-1, 4-1), 11-10, Wednesday in CCAA Division 1 high school baseball.
With an 11-8 lead, Pepe was called in to pitch with the bases loaded and no outs. After giving up two runs, and with the bases loaded, Pepe was able to strike out Walker Cygan to end the game.
"Sam did an excellent job to close the door," Dunkirk coach Frank Jagoda said. "He worked hard on the final hitter. He caught the corner to get a good hitter. He has built some confidence."
Cygan had four hits on the day, but Pepe was able to paint the corner on a 2-2 pitch for the final out.
The Marauders scored four runs in the third inning as they drew four consecutive walks to start the frame. Alex Crossan drew a bases-loaded walk while Nathan Skubis and Pepe each had an RBI single. Nick Thompson added an RBI sacrifice fly to give Dunkirk a 5-4 edge.
In the top of the seventh, Kevin Burns laid down a squeeze bunt to score Juliam Fred and Drew Messina had an RBI single to score Ryan Ruiz for the team's 11th run.
"I know both coaches were exhausted," Jagoda laughed. "The players played their hearts out for both teams. I think our kids had some real good clutch hitting. Gowanda had clutch hitting at times. I thought both teams battled with two strikes throughout the entire game. I thought Gowanda battled back from two deficits. Give both teams credit. I thought both teams battled. Each team didn't let miscues get to them. It was just a game you hate to see either team lose."
Dunkirk's Alex Kubera walked three times and scored two runs and Ruiz had a strong day from the leadoff spot.
For Gowanda, Joe Kruszka had two hits and Jon McCarthy had one.
Matt Kruszka also pitched a solid game for the Panthers.
"Matt Kruszka is an eighth grader and did an outstanding job," Jagoda noted.
Dunkirk returns to action Friday when it travels to Allegany-Limestone.