Div. 5 baseball: Pioneer slugs past Saint Joseph’s Prep in state opener, 11-2 

  • Pioneer’s Jared Hubbard hits a single against Granby in the top of the sixth inning during the Western Mass. Class D championship game last Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

For the Recorder
Published: 6/6/2022 9:18:17 PM
Modified: 6/6/2022 9:16:07 PM

NORTHFIELD — Instead of lamenting a host of early missed opportunities, Pioneer saved its best game-clinching work for a monster fifth inning Monday night.

The Panthers piled on seven runs in that frame, capped by a bases-clearing three-run triple by Jared Hubbard, to push a 4-1 game into blowout territory. Pioneer moved into the Round of 16 of the MIAA Division 5 baseball tournament with an 11-2 win over Saint Joseph Prep of Brighton.

Hubbard pitched the first five innings, setting down the first nine men he faced and striking out each of the last four, part of his total of six punchouts. At the plate, Pioneer (19-1) amassed 14 hits in all, at least one from everyone in the starting lineup. Leadoff man Braeden Tsipenyuk collected three and Sean Allen, Ian Simpson and Peter Loud had two apiece.

Pioneer, the 12th seed, advanced to play at No. 5 seed Oxford in the Round of 16.

Saint Joseph Prep, the Division 4 North sectional champion and a state semifinalist in 2021, seeded 21st in this year's Division 5 field, ended its season at 14-7.

"Up and down the lineup, we're used to stringing a lot of hits together," said Panthers coach Kevin Luippold. "It's a lot of hard work that they put into practice, and it's all about performing. The last half of the season, our 6 through 9 batters always come up for us at some point."

The hosts used a two-out uprising in their first at-bat to take an immediate 3-0 lead against Phoenix starter Jacob Peck. Hubbard walked and took third on Jason Quinn's single to center, then Quinn stole second. Ethan Quinn followed with a two-run hit to right-center, and Hugh Cyhowski doubled to the gap in left-center to bring in Ethan Quinn.

In the second, Simpson and Loud began the inning with singles and Tsipenyuk doubled to left to make it 4-0. Jack Lynch replaced Peck on the mound for Saint Joseph and Sean Allen reached on an infield hit to load the bases. But Lynch got a comebacker by Hubbard to start a 1-2-3 double play, then retired Jason Quinn on a ground ball for the final out.

Another great chance in the third fizzled after three straight walks to Ethan Quinn, Cyhowski and Brayden Thayer. After a strikeout, Lynch got a ground ball by Loud for a forceout at the plate, then another strikeout ended the Panthers' threat and kept the game at 4-0.

The Phoenix finally struck against Hubbard in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Lynch and Chuck Nolan to pull to within 4-1. With one out, Hubbard walked John Bennett, but set down the next two batters.

In the home fifth, the first seven Panther hitters reached against Lynch, and all seven ended up scoring. Cyhowski led off by reaching second on a throwing error and was wild-pitched to third, then Thayer walked and stole second. Simpson then bounced a base hit through the left side to score a pair. Loud kept the line moving with a single to left, Tsipenyuk delivered a RBI hit to left to make it 7-1, and Allen drew a walk to fill the bases. Hubbard then smacked his triple to deep right-center, good for three more runs and a 10-1 advantage.

Bennett replaced Lynch on the hill at that point and gave up a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Ethan Quinn that scored Hubbard with the Panthers' final run.

If Lynch's day on the mound was less than memorable, he still put a charge into the crowd leading off the sixth against reliever Jason Quinn. Lynch launched a solo home run over the fence in straightaway left to make it an 11-2 game.

"If you told me we'd have bases loaded with nobody out two innings in a row, and we only get one run, I would have said you're crazy," said Luippold. "But that's baseball and a lot of funny things can happen. Maybe we were a little flat, seeing three different pitchers and maybe weren't seeing the ball well. Hugh (Cyhowski) and Braeden (Tsipenyuk) really stepped up and kept our team morale up. They really got the guys going and rowdy and confident."


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