BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara County Community College’s baseball team is going back to the NJCAA Division III World Series for the third year in a row and eighth in 16 seasons under coach Matt Clingersmith.

The Thunderwolves, ranked No. 4 in the country with a 42-5 record, three-peated as Region II champions with a 6-5 walk-off win against No. 7 Herkimer, the defending national champions, on Sunday at Falcon Park in Auburn. It was NCCC’s 19th consecutive victory.

The double-elimination NJCAA D-III World Series begins Saturday at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tennessee. The eight-team bracket and first-round matchups will be revealed Tuesday. NCCC has placed as national runner-up three times in its previous seven tournament appearances, most recently in 2018.

Clingersmith, a Niagara Falls native who pitched for Canisius College, enters the national tournament with 598 career coaching victories.

Ryan Birchard, an MLB Draft prospect who recently decommitted from UConn, was named Region III Player of the Year and MVP of the postseason tournament. The right-handed pitcher improved to 7-0 on the season by throwing six shutout innings in a 5-0 regional playoff win against Erie on Friday.

Kyle Finn, a Williamsville North graduate committed to Old Dominion, allowed one hit in three innings for his first save of the season in the 5-0 win against Erie.

Nicholas Schulz, a freshman from Hamburg, knocked in the winning with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of the regional title game.


Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.