By Andrew Kruszka (brother of the Smash Brothers)
The Gowanda Panther baseball program had a phenomenal season this year, finishing with a record of 18-5. The team this year was expected to head to States; however, their season came to an end Saturday, May 30th when the team lost to Holland 12-11.
Captains Joseph Kruszka (junior) and Matthew Kruszka (sophomore) played a very big part in this year’s team. With Joey’s power arm on the hill and Matty’s consistent hits were a big boost for the team
As teammates call him “The Big Dog” when he’s on the mound, Joey achieved a record of 8-0 this past season. He had wins over Allegany, Portville, Hamburg, Cattaraugus, Lake Shore and Silver Creek.
The Big Dog racks up the Ks every time when he’s on the bump. He also pitched two great games against Fredonia; both times ended with the no decision though.
While Joey, the oldest of the two brothers, puts up Ks, he also can hit the ball great too. He batted third in the Panther line up and contributed significantly to the team with his bat.
The Second Smash Brother, Matthew also enjoyed an outstanding season. Coach Ryan Boutelle said, “Matty helps out our line up a lot! It’s great to have his presence on the team because he bring a great deal of experience.”
Although Matthew is only a sophomore, it was his fourth season on the Varsity team this year. He brings a wealth of experience to the Panthers and respects the game deeply.
This year against Hamburg, he hit a homerun over the centerfield fence. It didn’t seem like that was much of a milestone until Matty figured out that the homerun he had smashed 360 feet was the first one hit since his older brother Kris Kruszka hit his four years ago.
When Matty’s not cranking the ball in the batter’s box, he plays a great shortstop. He is also a side arm slinger on the mound.
Co-captain Cole Dailey, a senior, exclaimed, “I’m really exited to see what he will do when he’s a senior. He has a lot of potential and can be deadly with the bat at points. I was also surprised this year on how much heart he put into each game.”
Both Joseph Kruszka and Matthew Kruszka had strong seasons this year and they both said they are looking forward to next year already. They hope to win Sectionals and go to the Far West Regionals next year.
Next year will pose a greater challenge for the Smash Brothers because Gowanda will move up to Class B from Class C, and play teams such as Fredonia, Dunkirk and Southwestern.