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Raiders upset South Hadley; Mahar ousted

Baseball can sometimes be cruel, but if a player hangs in there, the game will usually provide a chance for redemption.

Athol sophomore Bryce Melanson seemed to experience all the game had to offer in the Red Raiders’ 3-2 nine-inning win at South Hadley in the Western Massachusetts Division III Baseball Tournament first-round game Thursday.

After pitching six outstanding innings, Melanson’s error at third base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh allowed the tying run to score.

But two innings later, he delivered the game-winning single to right field that knocked in Andrew Poor with one out in the top of the ninth.

“Whenever anything negative happens, I don’t let it get to me,” Melanson said. “I know I need to forget about it, which I was able to do.”

On the winning hit, he added, “They’d been hurting me up there with the curve ball, but I got a fastball and I was able to get a decent piece of it. Earlier in the at-bat, I was a little late, but thankfully I was able to time him on that last pitch.”

The No. 12 Red Raiders (12-9) advanced to face either No. 4 Palmer (17-3) or No. 13 Mohawk (11-9) in Monday’s quarterfinals. The Panthers and Warriors play Friday at 7 p.m. in Palmer.

It was the third straight season Athol opened the postseason with a road victory. The Red Raiders also avenged a 15-0 mercy-shortened loss to South Hadley in the season opener.

Melanson held the Tigers hitless through 42/ 3 innings before Nate Flachs singled to right-center. The righthander finished with just two hits allowed and three strikeouts.

Athol jumped on South Hadley ace Joe Ciolek in the top of the first. Jerry Parker opened the game with a single, moved to second on an Alex Page sacrifice, then scampered home on Bradley Bousquet’s single.

Bousquet, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, added another RBI single in the third to score Shawn Smart, who reached on an error.

Athol only managed seven singles in nine innings off Ciolek, who struck out 13 and looked dominant at times.

In the last of the sixth, Ciolek led off with a booming triple over the head of Andrew Poor in center. Pat Sears then launched a deep sacrifice fly to cut the Tigers’ deficit in half.

With two down, a dropped fly ball in left and a stolen base put the tying run in scoring position for South Hadley, but Melanson got Adam Pilachowski to fly out to center.

Bousquet began the seventh by plunking Ryan Klesczynski, who was sacrificed to second by Cam Earle, then swiped third with one down.

After Flachs struck out looking, Pedro Santiago hit the grounder to Melanson and hustled down the line to just beat the desperation throw.

Liam Medina had a two-out single for South Hadley in the eighth, but Bousquet got the next batter to ground out. He then put the Tigers down in order in the ninth, with the game-ending play made by Melanson at third.

— Mike Wilkinson

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Mt. Greylock 7, Mahar 3 — Mt. Greylock Regional High School jumped all over Mahar Regional School early with a five-run first-inning and the seventh-seeded Mounties went on to record a 7-3 WMass Division III first round baseball victory over the 10th-seeded Senators Thursday afternoon in Williamstown.

The Mounties (15-6) scored five times off Mahar (12-9) starter Zach Adams, as six of the first seven batters reached base. Ian Brink hit an RBI single in the frame, while Jake Benzinger, Dan Flynn and Eric Hirsch hit three consecutive RBI doubles later in the inning.

Mahar was never able to recover. The Senators scored twice in the third inning, when Logan Barrett hit an RBI single, and Jake Paul hit an RBI double to make it 5-2. They added another run in the top of the sixth inning when Barrett singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Drew Patria, but Mt. Greylock scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to put the game on ice.

Adams walked two and only recorded one out before getting pulled. Paul pitched well in relief, striking out one and walking one in 52/ 3.

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