SILVER CREEK – Mike Janisch has been coaching baseball at Silver Creek for decades and is approaching 500 career wins.
When he says someone hits the ball harder than anyone he has coached, that means something.
Although he coached Gavin Borrello for just one season, Janisch feels the same way about his first lead hitter.
Borrello doubled twice, walked and scored two runs to lead No. 5 Silver Creek/Forestville to a 6-0 win over No. 12 Cassadaga Valley in Class C Section VI ahead of Monday’s quarter-final.
The Black Knights will now have to travel to No.4 Netherlands for a quarter-final match this afternoon after the Dutch beat No.13 Randolph 12-6 in another pre-quarter final Monday.
Silver Creek/Forestville scored six runs through the first two innings, which was a big boost for Cade Neubauer. The senior right-hander threw a four-batter with 14 strikeouts en route to the shutout.
“He’s done a good job of staying within himself so he can carry on,” he added. said Janisch.
Neubauer threw 66 of his 87 pitches for strikes, keeping him under the 102 pitch threshold to remain eligible for a possible Thursday semifinal if Silver Creek/Forestville get past Holland that afternoon.
“The idea is that you must have at least two launchers”, said Janisch. “That’s what we have and that’s what we’re going to ride.”
Neubauer struck out two Cougars in the first and second innings before pulling the team – all watching – out in the third. He added another strikeout in the fourth inning before two more in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“What Gavin does is not often seen by most people. He’s a very, very good receiver for pitchers. Janisch said of Neubauer’s lead drum mate who transferred from Frontier this year. “Obviously he’ll kick the ball around and get the other teams to recognize that it’s better to be a little bit close to the bases.”
The Black Knights jumped on Cassadaga Valley starter Hunter Johnson early on. Borrello walked to open the game, then stole second and went to third when the pitch went into center field. Shawn Kelly followed with a sacrifice fly and Silver Creek/Forestville led 1-0 after just two batters.
“He’s starting to become a bigger leader. Coming here from Frontier and not knowing anyone was definitely a challenge for him,” Janisch said of Borrello. “He’s now getting to a point where he can say certain things and the kids understand why.”
After a pop-up for the second out, Aiden Piccolo doubled and Joe Villafranca walked. Neubauer then helped his own cause with a two-point brace to make it 3-0.
“He’s been swinging the bat pretty well for the past two weeks,” Janisch said of Neubauer. “We kept him on the ground because there always seems to be someone on base when he arrives. He receives children quite regularly.
The Black Knights repeated their success in the second set. Borrello started with a booming double that peeked down the left field fence. Borrello thought the ball was going over the fence when he left his bat and had to rush to beat the pitch in second. After Borrello stole the third, Kelly walked over and stole the second. A passed ball allowed Borrello to score before Aiden Piccolo walked on and Villafranca hit a two-run brace to make it 6-0.
“As a hitter, when he makes contact, the ball jumps. I haven’t had a kid that could hit the ball that hard in…I don’t know…forever,” Janisch said of Borrello. “When he arrives on base he knows what he’s doing and he knows what’s next.”
Johnston settled from there, limiting the Black Knights to just three hits and no runs over his final 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander finished with two strikeouts before reliever Owen Meyers blocked loaded bases late in the sixth with a pair of strikeouts.
“We had people on base and we just couldn’t move them. We’re a little stale.” said Janisch. “It’s something that we have to continue to overcome. We have to look for things aggressively because that’s the only way to win ball games.
But it didn’t matter which eight Silver Creek/Forestville men remained on base as Neubauer was in charge all afternoon, leading his Black Knights to the quarter-finals.
“There are not too many surprises in our dugout in terms of who is going to do what,” Janisch said of today’s game, “Because we are just lowering the pedal.”
NOTES: Neubauer and Brayson Parsell had late inning singles for Silver Creek/Forestville while Meyers had two singles, Braden LeBaron singled and Johnson singled for the Cougars.