The Post-Journal

Gullo Had Hillbillies ‘Clicking On All Cylinders’ In Run To State Final Four

The Fredonia Hillbillies were leading Southwestern, 10-0, after two innings in mid-May, seemingly on their way to a comfortable Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 baseball victory over their south county rival.

But somebody forgot to tell the Trojans.

“We had Corey King on the mound,” Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said,” and he took a ball to his lip and needed eight stitches and left the game. We ended up coasting and had to hold on for dear life before winning, 11-9.”

Gullo, a Fredonia High School graduate Class of 1985), was less than pleased.

“After the game, we kept the boys on the field for 45 minutes and they ran,” he said. “They ran hard. They didn’t quit. They understood the message. Ever since that game, they went all out.”

Not coincidentally, Fredonia went 9-1 the rest of the season, its only loss coming in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semi-final to Westhill, the eventual state champ.

“We were playing our best, clicking on all cylinders,” Gullo said. “Everybody was focused and wanted to do the job so bad. Everybody came through.

“We had different heroes every game. Everybody contributed to the success of the season. They were a joy to coach and I enjoyed seeing someone be a different hero every game.”

From seniors Jeff Dimmer, Jonathan Jamieson and Chris DiRusso during the regular season to Dimmer, King and Vinny Conti in the postseason, Gullo had a host of stars and role players who helped the Hillbillies (22-8) to the state final four for the third time in five years.

“These boys really like each other,” Gullo said. “They pull for each other and they’re happy for the other’s success. They don’t compete against each other, they compete with each other and want everyone to do well.”

The Hillbillies also had something to rally around – each other.

King, the crafty lefty, had his father die during the season and four other teammates lost grandparents this spring.

“It was fate, it really was,” Gullo said. (The coaches) sat back and watched the boys come together. They do like each other, and that’s important.”

Relying on lessons learned from his former coaches Pete Criscione and David Giambrone, as well as his father, Joseph, Gullo takes his responsibility seriously.

“They instilled the winning, the work ethic, teamwork and sportsmanship,” Gullo said. “…I hope I don’t burn out. I love it. We’re on quite a roll, knock on wood.

Much of the credit for that goes to Gullo, the 2009 Post-Journal baseball Coach of the Year.

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