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Duclos, Wave to finals

SPRINGFIELD — It’s been quite a year for Greenfield High School’s Mike Duclos. Not only was he class valedictorian, it turns out he can play a little baseball, too.

Duclos and the fourth-seeded Green Wave advanced to the Western Massachusetts Division III Baseball Tournament championship game with a 5-3 win over No. 9 seed Southwick-Tolland Regional High School in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon at George E. Trelease Memorial Baseball Park on the campus of Western New England University.

Duclos pitched a complete game, allowing only one earned run, and provided the biggest hit of the day, a third inning line-drive double to left field that knocked in two runs and gave the Wave a 4-2 lead that it did not relinquish.

The inning began with a beautifully placed bunt single by leadoff hitter Jake Elwell, after which left fielder Garrett Hudson reached on an error by Southwick shortstop Vincent Fortini. Greenfield shortstop Zach Bartak was next in the box and drove in Elwell with a basehit to right center, which set the stage for Duclos’ big hit. Duclos scored the final run of the frame — and, as it turned out, the game — on a shallow sacrifice fly ball to right field by Drew Barisano.

Even in victory, it was not an easy day for Duclos. He struggled with his command early, allowing two unearned runs in the first. He began the inning by retiring Rams leadoff hitter Andrew Mitchell on a grounder to shortstop, but the next batter, Kyle Manley, reached on an error by second baseman Parker Hickey. Vincent Fortini then singled to left, putting runners on first and second. Jacob Goodreau followed with a soft grounder to second, which left Hickey no choice but to get the out at first. Nicholas Fortini then singled to left, plating Manley and Vincent Fortini to give the Rams a 2-0 lead. Duclos walked Ross Lebo before striking out Nicholas Massarelli to end the threat.

“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” said Duclos. “I couldn’t pick my corners and had to focus on finding the plate.”

He ran into another jam in the third, becoming visibly frustrated when a few close calls didn’t go his way. A visit to the mound seemed to settle him down, and he was able to get out of the inning without allowing a run.

“Coach just told me to pitch my game and throw strikes and not to worry about anything else,” said Duclos.

The Rams (13-10) scored their third run in the top of the fifth. Mitchell led off with a bloop single to left and was moved to third by a fielder’s choice and an error. Jacob Goodreau then hit a sacrifice fly to center, cutting the deficit to two.

The Green Wave (18-4) carried that lead into the top of the seventh, and Duclos quickly retired Mitchell on a lazy fly ball to center and Manley on a grounder to first. Things quickly got interesting when Vincent Fortini reached base for the fourth time with a line single to left. This brought up cleanup hitter Goodreau, who hit a mammoth shot to center field that looked like it had a chance to leave the yard but went for a ground-rule double.

Southwick disputed the call, but the umpires conferred and the ruling was upheld. The tying runs remained at second and third for Nicholas Fortini, who launched a deep drive to the left-center gap chased down by center fielder Barisano to secure the victory for Duclos and the Green Wave.

“I didn’t have my best stuff,” repeated Duclos, “but when we score five runs, we should win, and it always feels good to contribute with offense whether I’m on the mound or not.”

Greenfield will face No. 2 seed Mount Greylock Regional High School in the final, which is scheduled for Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at the University of Massachusetts’ Earl Lorden Field.

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