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Hawks sent packing

DALTON — The postseason road has come to an early end for the Frontier Regional School baseball team.

The Red Hawks, visiting Wahconah Regional High School for a first-round tilt in the Western Massachusetts Division III Baseball Tournament, dug themselves an early hole, and despite an inspired comeback, fell to the Warriors, 5-3, Thursday afternoon.

The trouble started for ninth-seeded Frontier (12-9) in the bottom of the first inning, when eighth-seeded Wahconah (11-10) plated three unearned runs. After Red Hawks starter Ben Ruddock walked Warriors leadoff man Collin Parrott, Frontier committed three errors in the frame along with a hit batsman by Ruddock, and though the Warriors only recorded one hit in the inning, the Hawks were staring at an early hill to climb.

Frontier got one back in the top of the second, taking advantage of some Wahconah sloppiness, as Matt Ackerman struck out, but the ball was dropped by Warriors catcher Matt Schneider, who proceeded to throw it into right field. Ackerman ended up standing on second base, and after Nolan Muzyka moved him to third on a deep fly to right, Derek Zewinski picked up the RBI with a ringing single to left.

Ruddock settled in after the first, and with a little help from his defense, kept the Warriors in check for the next three innings. In the bottom of the third, the Hawks executed a perfect relay throw, with Ackerman fielding a basehit to center by Andrew Kowalczyk and throwing a laser to first baseman Brandon Bryant, who made a perfect throw to the plate to cut down Kyle Kirchner, who had doubled earlier in the inning, for the third out of the stanza.

Frontier kept fighting and tied the game in the top of the fifth, a formula that Red Hawks head coach Chuck Holt said was his team’s calling card all year.

“That was kind of our MO all year, we just never gave up. We had to fight back a lot early in the season and lost a lot of very close games, never gave up, and that proved to be very important. Later in the season, we were able to fight back in some games that we were down big and bring home a win. I was really hoping that was going to be what happened today, but this was a good team we played, and they held us off at the end, even though we kept threatening,” reflected Holt.

Wahconah took the lead for good in the top of the fifth as Parrott, who worked his second walk of the game, stole second, moved to third on a dropped third strike and scored on a sacrifice fly by Warriors pitcher Ethan Wells. Wahconah added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by No. 9 hitter Eli Pease, and Frontier was down to its last three outs.

The Hawks were able to bring the potential tying run to the plate after a leadoff walk to Muzyka, but two outstanding defensive plays by Wahconah led to a pair of fielder’s choices, and with two out, Niko Ames put on an impressive 10 pitch at-bat that, unfortunately for the Hawks, ended with an infield pop-up to end the contest.

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