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Turners prevails in 12

Turners Falls baserunner Marcel Ortiz (2) leaps up into the arms of teammate Brody Markol (11) to celebrate an eighth-inning go-ahead run scored Monday in Granby, where the visiting Indians outlasted the host Rams, 2-1, in a 12-inning, WMass Division IV Baseball Tournament quarterfinal thriller.
Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

Turners Falls baserunner Marcel Ortiz (2) leaps up into the arms of teammate Brody Markol (11) to celebrate an eighth-inning go-ahead run scored Monday in Granby, where the visiting Indians outlasted the host Rams, 2-1, in a 12-inning, WMass Division IV Baseball Tournament quarterfinal thriller. Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

GRANBY — Disappointment turned to a brief moment of devastation three innings later for the Turners Falls High School baseball team, but a controversial judgment call gave the season a reprieve.

The Indians took advantage and went on to beat Granby High School, 2-1, in 12 innings Monday afternoon in a Western Massachusetts Division IV Baseball Tournament quarterfinal.

“A lot of ups and downs in this one, a great game by both teams,” junior first baseman Zach Wright said. “One inning we thought it was in the bag, then a few innings later it looked like we lost.”

Turners allowed the tying run to score with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. It then appeared to have lost in the last of the 10th.

Granby’s Max Humphrey was ruled out at the plate on an apparent game-winning hit by Brett Sullivan because he failed to slide. As he waited for the throw from center field, Turners catcher Brody Markol set up at the plate. Humphrey beat the throw, which was high and deflected off Markol’s mitt.

The home-plate umpire said Humphrey was safe, but after conferring with the field umpire changed the call.

“My catcher was in front of the plate and didn’t have a clean opportunity to catch the ball because of the contact,” Turners coach Jay Liimatainen said. “They stressed that rule in the preseason. You have to give the catcher a chance to catch the ball.”

The Rams still had two more chances with the winning run 90 feet away, but eventual winning pitcher Tyler Charboneau got out of trouble with a strikeout and fly ball.

In the 12th, Wright stroked a two-out single to right that brought around Nick York for Turners. York hesitated roughly halfway around third base, but a strong throw from the outfield was a bit offline and got past the plate.

Recently Wright had been hit for, but was reinstated to the batting order Monday.

“I’ve been struggling lately, but I’ve worked on my swing a lot in practice,” Wright said. “Going up there, I wanted to keep my mind clear and give myself a chance. I faced (Bleakley) earlier in the game, and he throws strikes, so I wanted to put a solid swing on the first good pitch I saw.”

Liimatainen said, “He’s had some nice swings in practice lately, so I thought it was time to give him a shot. He got two huge hits for us.”

No. 5 Turners (11-11) advanced to the semifinals and will face top-seeded Smith Academy (13-7) at 4 p.m. Thursday at Western New England University.

The Falcons blanked No. 8 Ware, 5-0, Monday. The Indians won the regular-season match-up by a 7-0 score.

“We beat them earlier in the season, so we feel we can beat them again,” Wright said. “After this game, we don’t think anything will stop us.”

Starting pitcher York was one out from victory, but Tim Sheehan dropped an RBI single into short right field to plate Teddy Robert with the equalizer. Sheehan moved into scoring position on the throw home, but York got Humphrey to bounce out to second.

“We had two walkoff losses this year, so it was great to see us bounce back because losing that lead takes the wind out of you for a bit,” Liimatainen said.

York allowed one run on only four hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.

Tyler Charboneau took over in the eighth and allowed at least one runner in his first four innings. Granby placed the potential winning run in scoring position in both the eighth and 10th.

“We had a great outing by Nick, then Tyler shut them down at the end,” Liimatainen said. “Tyler had to really bear down a couple times to keep us alive.”

After a scoreless first five innings, the Indians broke on top in the sixth. Marcel Ortiz started the rally with a one-out single and advanced to second on a groundout.

With two down, Charboneau bounced one up the middle. Granby second baseman Mike Sosa knocked the ball down but Charboneau beat the throw to first and Ortiz raced around from second to score.

Charboneau had three hits, while Wright and Ortiz added two apiece.

The loss spoiled a phenomenal performance by Rams ace Brett Sullivan, who fanned 13 and gave up seven hits over nine innings.

Relief pitcher Matt Bleakley took the loss. He retired the first seven batters he faced before York singled with one out in the 12th. After getting the second out, Bleakley balked York to second to set up Wright’s heroics.

“I’m excited we’re moving on, but it’s tough to see a game come down to a play like that,” said. “We lost to Granby 1-0 last year in the playoffs at our place. So it’s a great matchup and Granby’s a tremendous team.”

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