CLARENCE, N.Y.-Dominant is the best word to describe Clarence senior righthander Mark Armstrong. Armstrong and the Red Devils beat Orchard Park 1-0 Friday afternoon in the Class AA Section 6 semifinals at Clarence.
Armstrong allowed just one hit and struck out 11 while having to work his way out of just one jam in the ball game. Armstrong told Two On Your Side's Stu Boyar "it feels awesome especially since we came up short last year. Its such a great feeling because we worked hard all year and this is where coach Smith said all year, we expect to be there on May 30 and we did it. We worked hard and we deserve it."
The Red Devils scored the only run of the ballgame in the bottom of the fourth inning. Matt Hawrot led off with a double. Alex McGlue bunted him to third and Chris Ossa drove in the run with a sacrifice fly. Clarence head coach Dave Smith told Stu "we had hoped to be here. At some point in your run you have to beat Orchard Park and today was the day."
Orchard Parkk head coach Jim Gibson told Stu "Mark Armstrong is the best pitcher in Western New York and he's probably the best pitcher in the last 5 or 6 years. I can only remember one kid who even approaches him and that's Ryan Dunford from Timon a number of years ago. He threw both his pitches for strikes, when he's throwing his fastball and curve for strikes you've got a problem."
Quakers players echoed their coach. Dave Hollins said "he's clearly the best pitcher around here. We have a young team, we had a few nice cuts on him just the balls weren't falling through for us today." Tom Lacongo told Stu "it was very tough for us to lose to Armstrong. We hit him very well the first game but that was in the beginning of the year. He throws everything very well. Its hard to tell where he's going to throw. He hides it very well. He did an awesome job. I give him a lot of prep."
Clarence will play defending champion Lancaster for the Section 6 championship next Thursday. The teams split a pair of regular season games.
Lancaster beat Lockport 3-0 Friday afternoon. Joe Preziuso pitched a complete game five hitter to get the win.