Wave ousts Rams on road
SOUTHWICK — The first 31/ 3 innings Monday gave little indication of the deluge that would soon follow for Greenfield High School.
After going hitless into the fourth inning, Greenfield’s bats awoke for a dozen hits from that point forward, with the decisive three-run rally coming in the top of the sixth inning to boost the Green Wave to a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over Southwick-Tolland Regional High School in the quarterfinals of the Western Mass. Division III baseball tournament.
Greenfield (16-6), the sixth seed, advanced to a Division III semifinal against No. 2 Drury High School (15-6) tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.
Kevin Luippold’s two-run single in the sixth snapped a 3-3 tie and put the Wave ahead to stay, making a winner out of right-hander Parker Hickey, who gutted his way through a rough first three innings before settling in. Garrett Hudson, fresh off his no-hit performance against Hoosac Valley Regional High School in Thursday’s first-round game, came on to relieve Hickey and worked the final two innings for the save.
“We seemed a little lethargic,” said Wave coach Tom Suchanek, looking back at his team’s early 3-0 deficit Monday. “I said to them, let’s get into the game, because if we continue on the way we are, we’re not walking out of here winners today. Whether that did anything or not, I don’t know. The bottom of our order came through today with some hits, and that was the difference.”
On April 11, Southwick scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to tip Greenfield, 5-4, in the Wave’s second game of the season. The return to Southwick 52 days later didn’t start well, as the third-seeded Rams (16-3) reached Hickey for a run with two out in the home first. Vinnie Fortini drew a walk, went to third on a hit-and-run single to left by Jake Goodreau and came in to score on Nick Massarelli’s base hit to right.
After Hickey set down the side in order in the second, the Rams were back at it in the third when Andrew Mitchell reached on an error and was bunted to second by Bob Hamel, and Fortini blooped an opposite-field hit to right. Fortini then stole second to put two men in scoring position and Goodreau brought them both in with a ringing double to left-center, putting the Rams in front 3-0.
The inning continued when Hickey hit Massarelli with a pitch and Brian Sheil reached on an error to load the bases for Southwick, but Eddie Martinez tapped back to the mound to allow Hickey to start a nifty inning-ending 1-2-3 double play to prevent any further damage.
Meanwhile, the Wave could get nothing started against Rams’ left-hander Hamel, who set down the first 10 men he faced with three strikeouts. With one out in the Greenfield fourth, Hickey lined a single to center and Hudson reached on an infield hit to shortstop, but Hamel retired Drew Barisano on a fly to left and struck out Connor Eckstrom to leave two men aboard.
That first contact against Hamel carried over into the Wave’s fifth, as Jourdan York-Welcome reached on an infield single and Luippold dumped a base hit just in back of third base. Tyler Jacques hit a ground ball to second and the Rams got a force on Luippold at second base, but the return throw to first sailed wide. York-Welcome kept on coming around third to score Greenfield’s first run, and the Rams threw the ball away again trying for a play at the plate. That double error allowed Jacques to move to third base, and he scored moments later when Owen Schilling reached on an infield hit to third. Jake Elwell grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to get the Rams out of the inning.
Hickey allowed a leadoff single to Fortini in the Rams’ fifth, then Goodreau lined directly to Jacques at second. His throw to first trying for a double play was wild, allowing Fortini to go to third, but Hickey then struck out Massarelli and got Sheil to fly out to center.
Once again the Wave came out swinging in the decisive sixth, as Hickey reached on a leadoff infield hit and Hudson singled sharply to left. Barisano flied out to left and Eckstrom hit a sinking liner to left, on which the Rams’ Dan McClellan dove but could only smother the ball on one hop. Hickey, caught between second and third, was retired at third on a 7-5 fielder’s choice. But York-Welcome delivered the tying run with a single to right, bringing in Hudson to make it 3-3.
On successive pitches with Eckstrom at third, York-Welcome broke toward second to draw a throw, eventually taking second on defensive indifference. Luippold then came up with the day’s biggest hit, a single to right-center to plate both Eckstrom and York-Welcome for a 5-3 Greenfield lead. That marked the end of Hamel’s day on the mound and Massarelli came in from center field to relieve, giving up another base hit to Jacques before escaping the inning.
“I just told the guys to crowd the plate a little more, because (Hamel) was getting the outside corner,” said Suchanek. “He might have gotten tired too. It didn’t look like he was throwing the same as in the first (inning).”
Hudson came on to replace Hickey in the sixth. Working on three days’ rest after his no-hitter, the right-hander hit Martinez with a pitch and walked Patrick King to put the tying runs on, but McClellan popped up a bunt to Wave catcher Elwell for the first out. Hudson then struck out Mitchell and got Hamel on a foul pop to third.
“(Hickey) really dug his toenails in there,” said Suchanek. “He got us through those (early) innings and left some guys in scoring position. Garrett came in and did a great job the last couple of innings — I said to him, ‘Hey, are you OK?’ He said, ‘I’m good.’ So that was a no-brainer.”
The Rams’ last chance came when Goodreau drew a one-out walk in the seventh, but Hudson induced Massarelli to ground to short and Hickey started a 6-3 double play to end the game.
Hudson led Greenfield’s 12-hit attack with three singles, while Hickey, York-Welcome and Luippold each finished with a pair. Southwick, limited to only five hits, got two each from Goodreau and Fortini.