N  I  A  G  A  R  A     G  A  Z  E  T  T  E     niagara-gazette.com

Published: May 01, 2009 11:08 pm

HS BASEBALL: Ben Tomkins goes 12 innings as GI wins

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Ben Tomkins admits he’s been watching team ace Joel Klock closely. Friday’s performance certainly proved that.

The Grand Island sophomore right-hander tossed a 12-inning gem to help the Vikings squeak out a 4-2 Niagara Frontier League win over host Niagara Falls at Sal Maglie Stadium. Tomkins allowed 11 hits, two earned runs, struck out one and walked none.

“Joel is such a good pitcher to watch and I’ve learned a lot from him,” Tomkins said. “I’ve really focused on the fact that it’s how you place the ball that will win you games.”

Veteran Vikings coach Dean Santorio wasn’t one bit surprised by Tomkins’ performance.

“After watching Ben in three sports now, I’ve learned he’s just a gamer,” the coach said. “He does all the little things well and makes the most out of what abilities he has.”

The same compliments could be showered upon the heroes at the plate for the Vikings (8-3 overall, 5-0 NFL). Following a questionable call at second base, which NFHS coach Joe Contento firmly believed was an out, Marv Pawlowski and Klock ripped back-to-back two-out RBI singles to score Korey Hagen and Chris Moody and break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 12th inning.

Pawlowski’s hit, a shot to right-center, was especially impressive as he had fouled off five breaking balls from Falls hurler Steve Rick before finally getting a pitch he could handle.

“That’s one of the best at-bats you’re going to see all year,” Santorio said.

Contento agreed.

“Pawlowski is a great hitter and he had a great at-bat,” the coach said.

Rick, a right-hander, came on in relief of freshman southpaw Andy DeWitt, who went the first 4 2/3 innings. Rick finished the game, allowing only three hits, all of which came in the 12th frame.

The Vikings got on the board early when Klock singled in Nick Kellner in the top of the first. The lead went to 2-0 in the fifth after Pawlowki drove in Kellner.

The Wolverines (7-5, 3-2) battled back, scoring a pair of runs to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Johnny Lysiak and Matt Paonessa each had sacrifice flies in the frame, scoring Ricky Grace and Jake Lysiak.

In extras, neither team got a runner past second until GI finally broke through in the 12th.

“It was just an exhausting game,” Pawlowski said. “We’re all pretty tired, but we’re still going crazy. It’s a nice win.”

“That was just a great game played by both teams,” Contento added. “It’s a tough one to lose, but we’ll continue to work hard to be better.”