Turners edges Pioneer, 3-2
Turners Falls winning hurler Nick York pitches during a 3-2 Hampshire League baseball win over visiting Pioneer Thursday afternoon at the Bourdeau Complex in Turners Falls.
Pioneer hitter Roger Doiron races to first base on a sacrifice bunt at the Bourdeau Complex in Turners Falls Thursday afternoon.
Pioneer baserunner Jake Hale (5) beats the tag by Turners Falls catcher Brody Markol at the plate during the host Indians' 3-2 Hampshire League baseball win Thursday afternoon at the Bourdeau Complex diamond in Turners Falls.
TURNERS FALLS — It wasn’t exactly how Turners Falls High School wanted to protect a one-run, seventh-inning lead in Thursday’s season opener, but the Indians picked off two base runners and threw out a third trying to steal for the final three outs of the game to hold on for a 3-2 independent baseball victory over Pioneer Valley Regional School at the Bourdeau Fields Complex.
Some say that the beauty of baseball is that on any given day you can see something you’ve never seen before, which held true for the seventh inning of the opener, as all three of Pioneer’s outs came on the basepaths. Lennon Robichaud worked a walk to lead off the seventh, but on the first pitch to the ensuing hitter, Matt Kenney, Turners Falls catcher Brody Markol fired a strike down to first and caught Robichaud too far off the bag. Kenney responded by singling to center and got lifted for pinch runner Tyler Wheelock, but again bad baserunning came into play when Indian reliever Zach Demars made a great move to first base to catch Wheelock, who became the second picked-off baserunner of the inning. Pioneer’s Eliot Mousseau followed with a single to put the third baserunner of the inning aboard, and he promptly attempted to steal second. But for the second time in the inning, Markol fired a strike and cut the runner down for the final out of the game.
“I told the guys before the game that if they got the little things done, they could win this game,” Turners coach Jay Liimatainen said. “The game went exactly like I thought it was going to. It’s the first game of the season. You don’t expect to come out and hit the ball great. You just have to make the little plays.”
Indian junior Nick York also helped the cause with his 10-strikeout performance. The righty allowed one run in the second and third innings but settled down and went six-plus, allowing just five hits and three walks.
“Not bad today,” York said. “The first inning wasn’t great, but I made some adjustments and tried to come out throwing strikes.”
Liimatainen said it was York’s control that earned him the opening-day start.
“He throws strikes and hits his spots and that’s why he got the start,” he said. “He doesn’t overpower hitters, but his curveball was good today and he threw strikes.
Pioneer senior Jake Hale (nine strikeouts, four walks) matched York and then some, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning despite the score being tied at 2-2 due to walks, passed balls and wild pitches. In the fifth, Turners Falls got its only two hits of the game, the first a two-out single by Marcel Ortiz, who stole second base, and the second an RBI single to left by Markol for the eventual game-winning RBI.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the second when Hale singled, was sacrificed to second, stole third and, on the throw down, raced home when Markol’s throw was off-target. The Panthers made it 2-0 in the third inning on Kyle Hubbard’s RBI single.
Turners Falls came back to tie the score with a pair of runs in the third inning. Trent Bourbeau and Ortiz worked back-to-back walks to leadoff the inning and both moved up a base on a passed ball to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Back-to-back ground ball outs to second base by Markol and Zach Wright drove the runners home.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday when Turners Falls travels to Athol High School and Pioneer heads to Frontier Regional School.