Green Wave offense awakens, 7-2

  • Greenfield pitcher Joel Peabody earned the win in Thursday’s WMass Division III baseball opener against Monson. Recorder FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Thursday, June 07, 2018

MONSON — The Greenfield High School baseball team did not look anything like the team that struggled to score runs late in the regular season when it opened postseason play on Thursday.

The 10th-seeded Green Wave manufactured four runs in the fourth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit, and then got some timely hitting later in the game to put things out of reach as it knocked off seventh-seeded Monson High School, 7-2, in the first round of the WMass Division III Tournament.

The Green Wave (10-10) stumbled a bit down the stretch mainly due to an offense that struggled to push runs across the plate. Even the early innings of Thursday’s game against the Mustangs looked inauspicious, as the Wave had a runner thrown out at the plate with one out in the second inning of a scoreless game. It was made worse when Monson (12-7) plated two runs in the bottom of the inning as Greenfield shortstop Jake Suhl committed a two-out error that allowed a pair of Mustangs to score.

Everything changed in the fourth inning. Hunter Campbell led off with a single, and the Wave then went to work on Monson starter John Fiester as Greenfield hitters worked four consecutive full counts. The first was by Joel Peabody, who struck out swinging for the first out, but the next three all resulted in walks. The second of those walks came with Greenfield eighth-grade second baseman Ryan Cote at the plate, and he fell behind 1-2, but came back to walk and load the bases. Cote was playing due to an injury to Greenfield starting second baseman Jared Hart. That brought up freshman Jake Sak, who also worked a walk, but while he was at the plate, a passed ball allowed Campbell to scamper home with the first Green Wave run of the game.

Josh Phillips, the Wave’s No. 9 hitter, came to the plate with the bases loaded and after taking a strike, Phillips squared up and dropped a bunt down the third base line. Nate Haselton, who had walked earlier in the frame, busted down the line for home and forced Monson third baseman Dylan Gunther to rush his throw to the plate. Gunther threw wide, allowing both Haselton and Cote to score on the play. Owen Phelps followed that up with a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 4-2 Greenfield.

“We haven’t been hitting the ball, and what we didn’t need was a strikeout,” Greenfield coach Tom Suchanek said of laying down a bunt with the bases loaded. “We needed the ball in play and the kid had trouble fielding it and making a play.”

Peabody made the lead stand up as he battled through the next two innings to preserve the advantage. Peabody did have to pitch out of some jams on the day, including a two-out, bases-loaded pickle in the fifth inning, but he struck out Jadon Messina to end the threat. The sophomore pitcher finished with five strikeouts and three walks in five innings to earn the victory.

“Joel has been one of our guys this year, along with Owen (Phelps),” Greenfield senior catcher Colin Cloutier said. “We feel confident when he’s on the bump. It’s great to have a reliable pitcher who we can turn to and he was unhittable at times today.”

Suchanek turned things over to Campbell for the final two innings and the junior came on and made quick work of Monson in the sixth, as he retired the side on six pitches. He then got two quick outs in the seventh, but ran into some trouble. That included a very scary moment as he hit Ryan Nodell in the head with a pitch with two outs in the seventh, sending Nodell to the ground, where he remained until an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. Both teams appeared shaken by the incident, which halted play for nearly 30 minutes. When the game resumed, Monson had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh, and Campbell got Messina to ground back to the mound for the final out of the game.

Greenfield was not done putting runs on the board after its four-run fourth. In the sixth, Phelps hit a one-out single past third base, and Suhl followed with the loudest hit of the day as he roped a long double into the gap in left-center, scoring Phelps. Cloutier followed with a single to put runners on the corners, and Campbell drove in Suhl with a sacrifice fly to left. The Wave tacked on one final run in the seventh as Haselton walked, stole second and scored when Brody Baird reached on a two-out error.

Greenfield gets a much shorter road trip for its quarterfinal matchup as it heads down the road to South Deerfield Monday afternoon at 4 for a game at Valiton Field against second-seeded Frontier Regional School, which is coming off a bye. The Red Hawks beat the Green Wave twice during the regular season.

“We’re really excited to get Frontier again,” Cloutier concluded. “It’s hard to beat a team three times.”