Pitching duo powers Wave
WM finals moved to Sunday
GHS pitcher 9 Hudson
Post 81 pitcher Mike Duclos
GREENFIELD, MA (April 5, 2013) Greenfield High School Vs Southwick. In the first game of the season pitcher Mike Duclos. Photo by Beth Reynolds
Greenfield High School pitcher Garrett Hudson has been preparing to take the mound in the Western Massachusetts Division II Baseball championship game since before he threw a pitch this season.
The junior right-hander was putting together a notebook prior to the season in which he wanted to keep game-by-game statistics. Hudson recognized that there were 25 lines in the notebook, the perfect amount for what he had planned — a 20-game regular season schedule, three games in the WMass tournament and two more in the state tournament would perfectly fill 25 lines and result in the school’s first state title in the sport.
Hudson also circled the games he figured he would pitch in, and as fate would have it, he circled the No. 23 in the book, which represented the WMass title game. On Sunday, Hudson will do just that when he leads the Green Wave onto Earl Lorden Field on the campus of UMass in Amherst to take on Mt. Greylock Regional High School in the title game at 1:15 p.m. (all three WMass title games were moved to Sunday due to weather and other factors).
“I’ve been thinking about this all year,” Hudson said Thursday as the Wave prepared for the game at practice. “I wrote down which games I thought I would pitch in and I circled this game. I’m not nervous right now because I’ve been preparing for this all season.”
Hudson is part of the two-headed monster that the Green Wave has been able to run out onto the mound this season. His counterpart is senior Mike Duclos, and Greenfield coach Tom Suchanek recognizes that his pair of aces, who he refers to as 1A and 1B in his rotation, is just what he needs to make a run at another western Mass. title.
“I wish I had this all the time,” he said of having two No. 1s on his staff. After a brief pause, the coach joked. “Actually, I wish I had three aces.”
Suchanek said that no matter who he runs out, he knows his team is going to have a very good shot at winning and the numbers in the regular season back it up. Hudson is 7-0 on the season with 56 innings pitched, allowing 29 hits and 11 walks with 80 strikeouts. The junior has allowed 11 runs (three earned) and has a 0.37 earned run average. Duclos has been just as good, sporting a 6-2 record (both losses were 1-0 decisions on unearned runs) with 46 2-3 inning pitched. The senior has allowed 27 hits and 12 walks with 72 strikeouts, giving up nine runs (five earned) for a 0.74 earned run average.
“You get the feeling that you have a good shot to win whenever one of them takes the mound,” Suchanek said. “No to mention the confidence it gives the guys behind them. You just know the opposing team is not going to score a lot of runs when they are on the mound.”
While opposing hitters may be shaking in their cleats at the site of either pitcher, the two hurlers are having a great time pushing each other. Both admitted that there is plenty of friendly competition between the two. When one does well, the other wants to do even better. Never was this better demonstrated than during the first month of the season. On April 17 Hudson became the first pitcher in Suchanek’s 41 years as a coach to throw a perfect game when he struck out eight and did not allow a baserunner in a 15-0, six-inning win over Mohawk Trail Regional High School. It took Duclos exactly one week to match the feat as he struck out nine and did not allow a baserunner in a 16-0, five-inning win over Pioneer Valley Regional School.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Duclos said of the competition between the two pitchers. “It pushes us and we both know that we can rely on each other.”
“Both of us have confidence in each other,” Hudson added. “We’ve been together for three years now, leaving the same stuff. And we have a lot of fun joking with each other.”
The jokes between the two date back to their first year together. That season, Duclos, who was a sophomore at the time, was in the midst of throwing a no-hitter against Turners Falls High School when a wide-eyed freshman by the name of Hudson, caught up in the moment, came up to him late in the game and exclaimed, “You’re throwing a no-hitter.”
“I could see he was mad at me immediately,” Hudson said in reference to him breaking the unwritten code in which you don’t mention a no-hitter or a perfect game to a pitcher who is throwing one. “He’s superstitious about that, like a lot of guys are. I mentioned it to him in the dugout and then T.J. Meyer got a hit to break up the no-hitter.”
The two still joke about that day, although Hudson did keep quiet when Duclos was throwing his perfect game this season.
“I learned my lesson that day,” he said. “He gets in ‘Pro Mode’ and he stays away from everyone else.”
The pitchers also have little friendly bets amongst each other and the rest of the staff. Hudson said that prior to the season there was a running joke about who would give up the first home run. That is still ongoing, because the Green Wave has not allowed a bomb all season. Hudson said that there have been a couple close calls, including the controversy in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Southwick, but to date there has not been a round-tripper hit against the Green Wave.
So what is the secret to their success? Duclos said it’s rather simple.
“We both have pretty good command,” he said. “The biggest key is getting ahead of hitters. When you get a high school batter down 0-2 in a count, his average goes down 100 or 200 points.”
Suchanek agreed that command is a big deal in being a successful high school pitcher. He also broke down their differences, which come in their breaking pitches.
“They both have pretty decent fastballs,” he explained. “Garrett’s curveball is different than Mike’s. Garrett’s curve is quick, while Mike’s is more off-speed. But they are both very smart pitchers.”
And both pitchers have been deadly in the postseason.
Hudson hurled eight shutout innings in the quarterfinals as Greenfield beat South Hadley, 1-0. Duclos then allowed just three unearned runs in the semifinals on Wednesday as Greenfield dispatched Southwick, 5-3. While Hudson has appeared in multiple postseason games with the basketball team, which went to the WMass finals this past winter, this is the first time that Duclos has been on a team that made it past the first round and he’s soaking it up.
“Ever since my freshman year I just wanted to be part of something bigger,” said the Worcester Polytechnic Institute-bound Duclos. “This feels closer to playing as a professional than a normal high school game. We’re not used to having this many fans at the game. People who we don’t even know. It’s amazing. It’s a lot of pressure, but I love it.”
On Sunday, the Wave will be focused on trying to win the sixth western Mass. title in school history and first since 1992. The last time the Green Wave played for a title was in 2009, when Mt. Greylock knocked off Greenfield, 6-3.
“It’s beyond belief,” Hudson said of the opportunity. “It feels awesome. It’s been a great season and if we win, we’ve got two more games and we could be the first team to win a state title. Coach doesn’t have one of those.”
First the duo give Suchanek his first perfect games this season, and now they have their eyes set on the biggest prize of all.