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‘Playing good baseball’

Tarp Skunks upend Niagara Falls 6-1 at Diethrick Park

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Jamestown Tarp Skunks’ Klayton Kiser celebrates his home run with teammate Nigel Sebastianelli during Thursday afternoon’s PGCBL game against the Niagara Falls Americans at Diethrick Park in Jamestown, N.Y.

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — Klayton Kiser went where very few have since summer collegiate baseball came to Jamestown nine years ago.

It came much to the delight of 2,500 fans — mostly local elementary school students.

Kiser hit a solo home run into the pine trees beyond the 16-foot-high right field fence and Gage Hayes threw five innings of one-hit, shutout ball as the Jamestown Tarp Skunks beat the Niagara Falls Americans 6-1 in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game Thursday afternoon at Diethrick Park.

The win improved the Tarp Skunks to 2-1 in the West Division with home games tonight and Saturday to complete a five-game homestand that included a pair of exhibition games. The Americans fell to 0-2.

“In this league, you can’t win it all in the first month, but you can lose it all in the first month,” first-year Tarp Skunks manager Ben Julian said postgame. “Tommy Lasorda said you are going to win a third of your games and lose a third of your games; that middle half you have to fight for. The more we can get in the win column early on, the better it is for us.”

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Jamestown Tarp Skunks shortstop Nigel Sebastianelli throws to first base during Thursday afternoon’s PGCBL game against the Niagara Falls Americans at Diethrick Park in Jamestown, N.Y.

Hayes, a right-hander out of Drury University, was the story early Thursday. He allowed a two-out infield single in the first inning, but allowed just one base runner over his final four innings — that coming on a dropped third strike with two outs in the second inning.

All told, the Lake Winnebago, Missouri, product struck out seven, including Niagara Falls No. 7 hitter Myles Oo with his final pitch of the afternoon.

“He was lights-out. He was flipping that slider over and just filling up the zone,” Julian said of Hayes. “He was attacking guys and dominating.”

Jamestown’s two-run second inning would turn out to be enough offense. Bobby Stang (Georgia Southern University) walked to lead off the frame and Shaniel Maldonado (Mercer Community College) reached on an error before DJ Stoianovich (Mansfield University) hit an RBI single to right field. Aidan Wallace (University of Tampa) drove in the second run on a fielder’s choice.

Kiser, another Drury University product, provided the exclamation point in the bottom of the fifth inning, driving a full-count pitch deep to right field to make it 3-0.

“He’s made some adjustments in the past day or two. He works his tail off and is a big strong kid,” Julian said. “Hopefully he can replicate it, but I’ll take singles and doubles, too.”

Jamestown reliever Hayden Givens-Craig (University of Tampa) allowed a run in the top of the sixth inning before throwing shutout ball over the final three innings to earn the save.

“We have a bunch of games coming up this week against some tough competition,” Julian said. “It’s always good when you can get through a game with just two pitchers.”

The Tarp Skunks tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kobe Jones (Shorter University) singled before Stang drove a ball to left field that looked like it may get out of the ballpark, but instead bounced off the high fence for a double.

“I had Bobby last year in Auburn. It was a similar type of double fence. I’ve seen him hit some balls a long way,” Julian said. “I did think he got that one. A couple of more pushups, and maybe he would have had it.”

Maldonado then hit an RBI single to right field that also plated Stang after the ball got under the glove of the Americans’ outfielder.

Julian Sauger (Shorter University) drove in the final run with a double to the right-center field gap.

Despite no more runs being scored, the final three innings were not barren of highlights created by the Tarp Skunks’ Nigel Sebastianelli.

In the top of the seventh, the Niagara County Community College shortstop went deep in the hole to his right before throwing out Niagara Falls’ Dalton Harper. In the eighth, Sebastianelli ranged up the middle to throw out Mason Bondoc. And in the ninth, the St. Catharines, Ontario, native finished off a double play from second baseman Brandon McClain-Banks (Youngstown State University) with a strong throw to first base to end the game.

“Nigel is a heck of an athlete. Every time he’s out there, he does something that’s kind of special,” Julian said. “All around, we are kind of relaxing, settling in and playing good baseball.”

Jamestown will host Auburn — Julian’s former team — tonight before Niagara Falls returns to Diethrick Park on Saturday. Both games will start at 6:35 p.m.

“The energy that they bring with all these guys that we have coming in, experiencing it for the first time, that big of a crowd, was really special,” Julian said of the packed stadium. “Hopefully, they’ll all come back soon.”

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