NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Three years in the making, the first–ever WNY Athletics Baseball Day took place all day on Saturday in Niagara Falls, and all 16 teams were out there playing baseball for a good cause.
All proceeds from Saturday’s event were donated to Depew head coach Dennis Crawley and his family. The longtime head coach of the Wildcats was diagnosed with ALS in August of 2021, becoming the 27th member of his family to be diagnosed with the disease.
“It was overwhelming, obviously. With how many people came, the turnout has been excellent, the weather is excellent, I was in awe obviously,” Dennis Crawley said. “It’s just overwhelming. The surprises they had, I didn’t see that coming.”
Along with the honor of being the recipient of the funds from the day, during the opening ceremony, Crawley was surprised with an induction to the WNY Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It’s not just my achievement, it’s all my players I’ve coached. I played until I was 35 but then I coached for so long, so they had a lot to do with it,” Crawley said. “It was very surprising, without a doubt. I didn’t expect it, but it’s a great honor. I know quite a few guys that are in there that I played with, and that I’ve coached against, so it’s kind of cool to know your name is going to be somewhere forever.”
After receiving his Hall of Fame induction news, Crawley immediately walked over to the baseball diamond to coach the Wildcats as they took on Gowanda in the first game of the day.
In the bottom of the first, Depew smacks an RBI sac fly to left field to score Jacob Scibetta. The Wildcats take a 1-0 lead early.
Bottom of the second now, Scibetta knocks a chopper to third. Tyler Karnyski beats the throw home to give the Depew the 2-0 advantage.
A few batters later, Joshua Toolen blasts a shot out to left field that bounces over the fielders head for a standup triple. Scibetta trades places with him and scores the third Depew run of the game.
The Wildcats keep their foot on the gas throughout the rest of the game and cruise to a 16-1 victory over Gowanda.
Home team Niagara Falls and Nichols squared off in the second early game on Baseball Day this morning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Wolverines add to their one-run lead when Morgan Zientara grounds one to left center field. Domenic Hickok comes home, it’s now 2-0.
Top of the sixth now, Nichols has the bases loaded but Connor Burkestone has ice in his veins! He sits down the final three consecutive batters to get out of the inning unscathed. Niagara Falls heads into the bottom of the frame with a 3-0 lead.
Bottom of the sixth, Trevor Kennedy ropes one into right field for an RBI double as Hickok rounds third to score the final run of the game.
Niagara Falls allows no runs in the final frame to shut out Nichols 4-0.
Mary Margaret Johnson is a digital sports reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.