Hudson one-hits Mt. Greylock in 2-0 triumph
Lorden Field UMass 6/9/13. The Greenfield pitcher #9 Garrett Hudson, starts his delivery to the plate in the bottom of the 5th inniong at UMass Lorden Field.
photo by J. Anthony Roberts
Lorden Field UMass 6/9/13. The Greenfield pitcher #9 Garrett Hudson, launches the ball to the plate in the bottom of the 4th inning at UMass Lorden Field.
photo by J. Anthony Roberts
Lorden Field UMass 6/9/13. The Greenfield 1st baseman #13 Michael Duclos, stands ready to receive the ball for the out at 1st as Mt. as Greylock's #11 Andrew Leitch hustles down the 1st baseline in the bottom of the 4th at UMass Lorden Field.
photo by J. Anthony Roberts
AMHERST — The biggest blemish against Garrett Hudson during Sunday afternoon’s WMass Division II baseball championship game did not come from any Mt. Greylock Regional High School hitter.
It came from one of his own Greenfield High School teammates, who put a rip in Hudson’s cleat when he was jumping up and down around Hudson after the Green Wave won its first WMass baseball title in 21 years. And it was Hudson that deserved much of the praise.
The Wave’s junior pitcher dominated the Mt. Greylock batting order on Sunday, firing seven innings of one-hit shutout ball to lead the fifth-seeded Green Wave to a 2-0 victory at Earl Lorden Field at UMass.
“I can’t explain how this feels. I’m almost in tears right now,” Hudson said after needing just 73 pitches to complete his masterpiece that gave Greenfield its first WMass baseball title since 1992.
The righthander set the third-seeded Mounties (18-4) down in order in six of the seven innings on the day. The only inning when he faced more than three batters was in the third, when he allowed a leadoff single to center to Ian Brink. Hudson would retire the next three hitters in the inning and wound up finishing the game retiring the last 15 batters he faced. In fact, Hudson (four strikeouts) did not walk a hitter on the day and the Green Wave defense did not make a fielding error to allow a baserunner, making Brink the only baserunner on the afternoon for the Mounties.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Hudson closed the door on any thoughts of a comeback as he needed just eight pitches to record the final three outs.
“I’ve always focused on just trying to end strong,” he said of the finish. “I just try to stay calm out there. And I just try to get stronger by the end of the game. I think that fools the other team a little. I try not to lose control. And 73 pitches today, I managed to not lose control.”
Greenfield (19-4) moves on to Tuesday’s MIAA Division II State semifinal game at Western New England University in Springfield, where it will take on Central Mass. champion Auburn High School at 4. Auburn is also 19-4 on the season, including a 5-4 win over Northbridge High School in Saturday’s CMass title game. Greenfield will go back to work to prepare for that game this afternoon, but on Sunday, it was all about the Western Mass. title.
“This is unbelievable,” Greenfield senior Mike Duclos said. “I don’t know how to explain it. You really have to win it to know what it’s like.”
“It feels fricking amazing,” junior Drew Barisano echoed. “This is the best time of my life right now. Winning WMass and going to States. It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life.”
Sunday’s game had all the makings of a pitchers’ duel, as Mt. Greylock hurler Robbie Buffis was nearly as solid, allowing just five hits on the afternoon. Unlike Hudson, who got a nearly perfect defensive performance behind him, Buffis was the victim of some defensive miscues that helped the Green Wave offense.
Both teams had chances to score in the third inning, including Greylock, who got the lone hit from Brink and had him advance to second when Greenfield catcher Jake Elwell tried to catch him napping at first but sailed his throw high and into right field. That was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Eddie Dufur, which put Brink on third with one out. Hudson didn’t panic, instead coming back to strike out the next batter, Derek Romejko, on three pitches, including a called third strike on a breaking ball. He then got Sean Houston to ground out to third for the final out of the inning.
After having narrowly avoided giving up a run in the bottom of the third, Greenfield finally broke through in the top of the fourth. With one out, Barisano unloaded on a pitch from Buffis and sent it soaring to deep center that just got over the head of Mounties center fielder Houston. The speedy junior motored to third base on the play for a triple. He would score when the very next hitter, Luke Toritto, lofted a fly ball to left field that was plenty deep enough for a sacrifice fly.
“I just had a feeling he was going to throw me a good pitch,” Barisano said of the triple. “I had already swung at a terrible pitch in that at-bat. It was on the outside part of the plate, I waited on it and took it to right. It just felt great off the bat and I just ran.”
While Hudson didn’t look like he would need any insurance runs, Mike Duclos gave him one in the sixth inning as he led off with a double to deep center field. Barisano then hit a sharp grounder to short that would have moved Duclos to third, but wound up scoring him when the ball went through the legs of Mt. Greylock shortstop Eric Leitch for an error.
“Mt. Greylock was in it the whole game,” Duclos began. “Getting that insurance run definitely gave us a little extra confidence. We were more relaxed and we made the plays a little easier.”
It proved to be more than enough for Hudson, who was heaped with praise from his teammates afterward.
“I love that kid,” said Barisano. “Put that in the paper — I love him. Personally, I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the state.”
“Garrett was unbelievable today,” senior shortstop Zach Bartak added. “Absolutely proud to say he’s my teammate, and I’m so glad that he’s here pitching for my last year.”
Greenfield coach Tom Suchanek, in his 41st season with the team, earned his sixth career western Mass. title and first since he led the Green Wave to a 9-7 win over Athol High School in 1992. Coincidentally, Greenfield went on to face Auburn in that year’s state semifinal as well, and the Wave earned a 5-3 win to advance to the state championship. Greenfield wound up dropping a 6-5 decision to Archbishop Williams High School of Braintree in the state finals that year.
Since 1992, the Green Wave had made three other Western Mass. final appearances and lost each, including the most recent in 2009, when the Wave dropped a 6-3 decision to Mt. Greylock. Suchanek, who has never won a state title in his 41 years, said that two more wins would finish off all the preseason goals from the teams.
“We told the kids, ‘We got the cake when we won the league, we put the frosting on it today, and now we’re going for some candles,’” he said.
Should the Green Wave win two more games, there will likely be plenty of cake and partying for everyone on the team with the first state baseball title in school history.