High school baseball: Swiernik extends Lowville's run to Section 3 Class B semifinals

May 23—LOWVILLE — Two days after his older brother Dominic pitched the Lowville baseball team to a sectional win, it was Devin Swiernik's time to shine Thursday.

The younger Swiernik tossed a solid five innings to post the win and the Red Raiders received timely hitting to record an 8-2 victory over Canastota in a Section 3 Class B quarterfinal on Lowville's turf field.

Devin Swiernik and Logan Watson combined on a three-hitter, with Swiernik allowing two runs on two hits, while striking out six and walking two.

"It feels pretty good," Sweirnik, a sophomore, said. "It feels pretty good backing him (Dominic) up and moving on to the semis."

Watson came on and pitched two scoreless innings to preserve the victory, which was the second playoff win of the week for Lowville, which improves to 13-5 on the season.

"We're excited, I've got a very young team," Lowville coach Andy Capone said. "I've got three good arms that can throw strikes, I have a 1A, 1B and 1C I call them, there's no second pitcher. Today it was Devin the sophomore came in and gutted it out, we had small strike zone today both ways, but it worked to our advantage because we did get ahead in most of the counts."

Zane Zustra led a balanced effort the plate for the Red Raiders as he tripled, singled and knocked in four runs on the day.

Third-seeded Lowville advances to play second-seeded Phoenix in a semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday at Onondaga Community College.

"We've been working for this for our whole lives," said Watson, who is a senior. "The pieces are coming together and we're winning games, we've just got to keep it going."

On Tuesday, Dominic Swiernik fired a two-hitter, striking out nine in a complete-game effort as the Red Raiders edged Solvay, 1-0, in a first-round game.

As the team's three main starting pitchers, the Swiernik brothers and Watson have backed the Red Raiders' drive through the late season and into the playoffs.

"Devin's gutty, he was focused," Capone said. "He's a young kid and sometimes in practice I have to get on him, but when he gets the ball on the mound he knows he wants to give four or five innings or whatever he's got and he did that today. And then he went to short and made a nice play deep in the hole."

Devin Swiernik allowed one base runner over the first three innings, but his teammates turned an infield double play in the third inning to keep Canastota at bay.

"Our defense has been decent and solid most games and we hung together when we had to and a found a way to score some runs," Capone said. "Our offense is still a work in progress."

Meanwhile, Lowville got out to a three-run lead as Dominic Swiernik drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a double to center field by Isaac Spence in the second inning.

Lowville then went up 3-0 in the third by manufacturing a pair of runs as Devin Swiernik and Brycen Villiere walked to open the inning and after both runners advanced on a groundout, Swiernik scored on groundout to short by Zustra. Villiere then came in to score when Raiders pitcher Luken Gaiser was called for a balk.

Canastota struck for two runs in the top of the fourth to pull within 3-2 as Devon Faber drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on an error and scored on a single from Devon Silvernail. But Swiernik bore down and retired the next three batters, with Silvernail scoring on a groundout.

Lowville responded with two runs in fifth as Watson singled to lead off the winning, stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Zustra tripled over the right fielder's head. Zustra scored on Deken Makuch's flyout to center field for a 5-2 advantage.

"Once their main pitcher was out, I knew we could hit the second guy and he had to bring in his third pitcher," Capone said of Canastota. "Their ace threw the other day, so we knew we were going to put the ball in play and it was matter of not trying to do too much with the pitches. Just put the ball in play and work with the singles and be aggressive on the bases."

The Red Raiders added three runs in the sixth as Eli Gronowski singled, Devin Sweirnik was hit by a pitch and both scored on Villiere's bloop single to left field. Zustra followed with an RBI single down the left-field line.

"Zane has been struggling a lot with some of the pitchers, but today he had two hits," Capone said. "And Brycen, our eighth-grader had a key hit, he broke their backs I think with that two-run single."

After Canastota drew a leadoff walk to lead off the sixth, Watson came on and relief and closed the door on the opposition the rest of the way.

"I'm blessed to have those two and Logan's a senior that wants the ball when it's crunch time and he usually throws strikes," Capone said. "And tonight he was ready to go here especially tonight here in front of our home crowd."

With the win, the Red Raiders have won 12 of their past 13 games and have advanced to their first sectional semifinal in baseball since 2008, according to Capone.

"I'm proud of all of them," he said. "And we're going to OCC and that's going to be a lot of excitement for these kids that haven't seen this level of sectional play. So we're not afraid of anybody, but we've got to throw strikes and make plays and hopefully we can find some offense somewhere."