High Schools: Pioneer baseball advances to Class D finals with 5-0 triumph over Turners

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski pitches against Frontier in South Deerfield earlier this season.

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski pitches against Frontier in South Deerfield earlier this season. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

By GEORGE MILLER

For the Recorder

Published: 05-23-2024 9:12 PM

NORTHFIELD — A key midgame defensive play Thursday night gave Pioneer the momentum it needed and stopped Turners Falls in its tracks.

The host Panthers had just taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning of their Western Mass. Class D baseball semifinal. With one out in the top of the fourth, Turners’ Cam Burnett reached on an infield single. After the second out, Joey Mosca shot a line drive into the right-center field gap for extra bases. Burnett, off at the crack at the bat, rounded third and attempted to score, but the relay from right fielder Hayden Girard through second baseman Jackson Glazier to catcher Braeden Tsipenyuk retired Burnett at the plate, choking off the potential tying run.

In its next at-bat, Pioneer erupted for three more runs to provide some much-needed cushion, then tacked on a single run in the home fifth to finish off a 5-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Thunder.

Pioneer (16-4) advanced to the WMass Class D final for the third straight year, following its win over Granby in 2022 and a loss to Ware last year.

Hugh Cyhowski went the distance on the hill for the Panthers, tossing a two-hitter with three walks and six strikeouts. He set down each of the last seven Turners hitters he faced and nine of the last 10.

“I wanted to get ahead, get to 0-2, 1-2 counts,” said Cyhowski. “I didn’t have my off-speed at all, so it was just fastballs basically. I’ve had a few outings this year where I struggled, got behind, and walked too many guys. I’m just glad I really got ahead today and was able to win battles.”

Cyhowski also drove in the game’s first run with a third-inning sacrifice fly, scoring Glazier. Tsipenyuk and Ben Werner each drove in a pair for the Class D top seeds.

“We were thrown off-guard the first time through, facing a bunch of sliders,” said Panthers coach Kevin Luippold. “Through looking at our sheets on the bench, we adjusted, and we got a better view of him for our next plate appearances.”

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Alex Quezada got the start for Turners (13-5) and worked 3⅓ innings, allowing four runs on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts before Dylen Richardson relieved him. A pair of errors also hurt the Thunder during Pioneer’s decisive fourth inning.

“I saw a little bit of deflation from our guys when we had the run called out at the plate,” said Turners coach Scott Minckler. “Pioneer’s a tough team, they strung a couple of innings together, and we just couldn’t recover from it.”

Pioneer had two men reach against Quezada with two out in the second and couldn’t score, but got it right in the third with a leadoff base hit by Glazier, a successful sacrifice by Tsipenyuk, and then a balk call on Quezada that moved Glazier to third. Alex McClelland reached first when his bunt traveled only a few feet in front of the plate, with Glazier holding. Cyhowski then flied out to Jackson Cogswell in fairly deep left field to bring in Glazier. Evan Tsipenyuk then lined out softly to third to end the threat.

Ethan Mauthe then began the Panthers’ fourth by reaching on an error and Jackson Campbell bunted him to second. Mauthe went to third on a wild pitch and came home scored when Werner’s ground ball to the right side was boxed around for another error. Werner stole second and Heath Gomez reached on a called third strike that went to the backstop for a passed ball. Glazier walked to fill the bases, spelling the end of Quezada’s night on the mound, and Richardson came in from center field to pitch in relief.

Braeden Tsipenyuk then greeted Richardson with a flare single in back of first base, bringing in Werner and Gomez for a 4-0 Pioneer lead.

In the fifth, Evan Tsipenyuk reached on an infield single and Mauthe drilled a double into the left-field corner, but Tsipenyuk was tagged out at third on a nice 7-6-5 relay by Turners. That didn’t faze the Panthers, who kept the line moving with a bloop single to right by Jackson Campbell and an RBI groundout to short by Werner, scoring Mauthe with the fifth run of the evening.

Gomez was hit by a pitch and Glazier singled in the infield to reload the bases before Richardson halted any further damage, getting Braeden Tsipenyuk to ground to third.

Pioneer now awaits the winner of Thursday’s late-starting semifinal between No. 2 seed Ware and No. 3 Hopkins, with the final set for Tuesday at a site and time still to be determined. Turners looks ahead to the Division 5 state tournament, where the Thunder held the No. 21 spot statewide in the latest Division 5 power rankings released this week.

“We know how it feels to lose that (Western Mass. final), and knowing that, I think we’re going to come in ready,” said Luippold. “This year we’re trying to make that right. We’ll be prepped for whoever it is.”

Class C semis

No. 2 McCann Tech 5, No. 3 Greenfield 4 — The Green Wave opened up a 2-0 lead after one and led 3-0 after three but the Hornets stormed back, scoring two in the fourth and two in the fifth to hold the lead going into the sixth.

Greenfield tied it in the top of the seventh but McCann answered with a run in the bottom of the frame to propel it to the Class C finals with a victory in North Adams Thursday.

The Hornets advance to play No. 1 Drury in the finals.

Michael Pierce tossed the opening five innings for the Green Wave, striking out five. Caleb Thomas struck out one in 1⅔ innings.

Non Playoff

Easthampton 7, Mahar 6 (9) — Morgan Softic cracked a pair of hits and RBIs in the Senators’ extra-inning loss to the Eagles in Easthampton Thursday.

Luke Connors, Sam Connors and Lucas Isrow hit safely for Mahar in the loss.

Softball

Non Playoff

Athol 13, Belchertown 10 — Jenna Bonenfant tallied four hits and two RBIs while Gianna Vaillancourt recorded four hits — one a double — and four RBIs in the Bears’ win on Thursday in Athol.

Ally Robertson finished with four hits and an RBI, Celia Fox knocked two hits while Tapanga Chapalonis had one hit and two RBIs and Abby Lutz singled in a run in Athol’s triumph.

Girls tennis

Non playoff

Frontier 5, SICS 0 — Eleanor Wade won in No. 1 singles (3-6, 6-3, 10-8) while Hailey Fernandez won in No. 2 singles (3-6, 6-4, 10-4) in the Redhawks' win Thursday in Springfield. 

Late Wednesday results

Softball

Chicopee 17, Pioneer 13 — Kelly Baird tallied three hits and an RBi, Jaelyn Boliski doubled, singled and drove in a run while Allie Clary doubled, singled and knocked in two runs in the Panthers’ non playoff loss to the Pacers Wednesday.