HVbaseball sneaks by in 7th
By Stephen Dravis
Posted: 06/01/2009 01:01:09 AM EDT
CHESHIRE -- After watching its starting pitcher get shelled with back-to-back doubles to start the game and five runs in the first three innings, the Hoosac Valley baseball team could have fallen apart.
After stranding runners in every inning and managing just three runs through six, the Hurricanes could have packed it in.
After putting two men on and watching their No. 3 and 4 hitters retired in the bottom of the seventh, Hoosac could have lost hope.
But in Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament opener, the ‘Canes would not quit.
Josh Gould and Nick Bourdon delivered back-to-back singles to cap a three-run rally that gave Hoosac a 6-5 win over South Hadley and a berth into today’s quarterfinal round -- they play at No. 2 Belchertown at 4 p.m.
Bourdon, who started the day with three strikeouts at the plate, epitomized his team’s perseverance. He belted an 0-1 offering from reliever Paul Ciolek through a hole on the left side of the infield to plate Gould and Jake Wilk.
"I was just thinking fastball because the tying run was on third," Bourdon said. "He gave me a fastball down the middle, and I just went with it.
"I didn’t do too good against the lefty."
South Hadley southpaw Sean Sullivan scattered nine hits and allowed just two earned runs while striking out 11 (including Bourdon three times) in six innings.
But Bourdon said the Hurricanes (13-8)never allowed their frustration to get the better of them. "We never gave up," he said. "We knew we could come back all the time. We just knew we’d get some luck with the bad hops and stuff."
Hoosac Valley was due for some luck.
South Hadley (6-15) capitalized on two bad hops past Hurricanes shortstop Danny Barrett to manufacture its fifth run in the top of the third.
Barrett ended up factoring heavily into Hoosac’s dramatic seventh-inning rally.
Leadoff man Zach Larabee got things started with a chopper down the first-base line that went for a double. Barrett then followed with a walk to get the tying run aboard with nobody out.
But Ciolek settled down to get Dalton Larabee swinging on a 3-2 pitch and Garrett Alibozek to ground back to the pitcher for a fielder’s choice.
Wilk came on as a pinch-runner for Alibozek, and Gould stepped into the box having already gone 2-for-3 with a double against Sullivan.
On the second pitch to Gould, South Hadley catcher Pat Dragon attempted to catch Barrett napping, but Dragon’s throw was off the mark, and Barrett took third.
Gould worked a full count before sending his third hit of the day into right field. Barrett scored easily, Wilk went from first to third, and Gould alertly took second base on a bad throw in from the outfield, putting two runners in scoring position for Bourdon.
"I honestly felt we were in great shape [going to the seventh] because my starting pitcher pitched an awesome game, but his pitch count was up around 120, and we were kind of using smoke and mirrors the last two innings just to get him through it," South Hadley coach Matt Foley said. "Then the guy I brought in is the guy who has been our No. 1 for a year. He got a little riled there. That first base hit [by Zach Larabee], I think screwed him up a little bit mentally.
"When we made that play at third, I thought we were in pretty good shape at that point because I could see in his eyes it settled him down a little bit."
That play also easily could have taken the wind out of the Hurricanes’ sails.
"In the seventh, the two guys in the middle of the lineup make outs with people on base, and you start thinking, ‘maybe it’s not going to happen,’ " Hoosac coach Bob Rivard said. "But Gould had a bit hit, and Bourdon had a bit hit. ... Gould played a tremendous game all the way around. He had three hits, he knocked in a couple of runs, he scored a couple of runs and he played great defense."
Gould turned in the defensive highlight for Hoosac Valley in the top of the fourth when he ranged well into foul territory to get the second out for Dalton Larabee.
As it turned out, the play helped Hoosac’s starter record the first of four straight scoreless innings after he surrendered at least a run in each of the first three.
"I think he might have been too strong [early]," Rivard said of his right-hander. "I think his curve was up a little bit the first couple of innings, and he didn’t locate his fastball.
"But I felt later on, he had some good pop. I think he had some gas that he had early in the season that he didn’t find [again] until late."
Larabee struck out seven, walked five and allowed 10 hits in the complete-game win. But he faced just two hitters over the minimum and allowed only two hits after the third.
His initial run support came in the second when Gould doubled to left and moved up on a bobble in the outfield before coming home on Corey Meczywor’s infield single. Meczywor went to second on an error and came home on Justin Pelczynski’s single to right to make it 4-2.
After South Hadley added a bounce-aided run in the third, Hoosac got one back when Dalton Larabee walked, moved up on an Alibozek single and scored on Gould’s second hit of the day.
Hoosac, which won the Western Mass tourney a year ago after also finishing the regular season 12-8, will look to keep this year’s tournament run alive today at second-seeded Belchertown (11-9), a team that split with South Hadley in the regular season by scores of 9-0 and 4-13.
One thing is certain: The Hurricanes will not stop fighting.
"I knew it wasn’t over," South Hadley’s Foley said. "Bob’s a great coach, and they’re a good team. They didn’t get to where they are at this point by being a bad team.
"We wish them well. We’ve always enjoyed playing Hoosac. We’ve probably played them a half dozen times in the last 12 years, and we’ve always respected them. I wish them well. I hope they have a nice run in the tournament."