By Rich Place
If the 2-1 final score of the Springville varsity baseball team’s playoff loss to Depew on Saturday isn’t enough to show just how close the game was, try measuring the loss in feet.
With a runner on second base and two outs in the game’s final inning, Springville junior Mike Sobota hit a liner that had all the makings of an RBI hit until it was snagged by Depew’s second baseman.
“If it would have been 3 feet either way, tie game,” said Springville coach Joel Lux.
The play ended the Griffins season in the quarterfinal round as Depew advanced to a matchup against No. 3 Fredonia. That game, originally expected to take place on Tuesday, was rescheduled to after press time on Wednesday.
The close final play was representative of the entire contest between Depew and Springville, a nip-and-tuck battle that Lux said could have gone either way. Not only was the score separated by only one point, but Depew had only one more hit than Springville and committed only one less error.
“We probably just fell one hit short,” Lux said. “There were plenty of opportunities with guys on second base.”
The loss in the quarterfinal round came after the Griffins defeated Dunkirk, 11-6, in the pre-quarterfinal round the day prior. Springville had entered the playoffs on a hot streak, winning five straight games before a loss to Holland to end the regular season.
The second half of the season — much like the weather the team played in — seemed to be much better than the first half. The Griffins started the season 2-9 before ending it at 8-11 and 5-7 in league play.
“Our top four or five hitters hit the whole year,” Lux said. “The second half of our lineup seemed like it took a little while to get going, but once they did we had the whole lineup hitting well.”
The successful hitting was obvious, with Springville scoring in the double digits in six of their last 10 games.
“Overall I think the season went OK,” Lux said. “We struggled out of the gate a little bit. We seemed to hit a pretty good stride and just lost a close one in the playoffs. It could have been either team going on (to the next round).”
The season started with what Lux called a “nightmare” in terms of weather, describing the late winter weather and soggy spring as “the worst year” he has seen as a baseball coach.
“It definitely had an impact at the beginning of the season,” he said.
The Griffins grabbed their first win against East Aurora in the fourth game of the season but wouldn’t win another until their 10th game against Cleveland Hill. Between the wins were close losses, with all but one game decided by 2 runs or less.
Looking ahead to next season, Lux said the team is losing four players who were traditionally in the team’s batting lineup and one of the team’s primary starting pitchers in Dan Robertson.
“All in all, though, some of our main pitching is coming back,” Lux said. “We have some of our relief guys this year who will be able to move into starting roles. The pitching staff should be just as good if not better next year.”
He said he’s encouraging the team to train in the offseason in hopes of replacing some of the power in the team’s lineup.
Seniors on the roster this year included Tyler Kostelny, Dan Robertson, Shaun Wright, Ty Sibiga and Matt Evans.