St. Mary’s eliminates Pioneer

Recorder Staff
Monday, June 11, 2018

WESTFIELD — St. Mary’s Parish School pitcher Quinn Powers recorded just one strikeout in Monday night’s Western Massachusetts Division IV Baseball Tournament quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Pioneer Valley Regional School.

Overpowering? No.

Effective? Absolutely.

The right-hander allowed just two hits over seven innings, walking two and giving up just a solo run in the first-inning to lift the third-seeded Saints into the semifinals with a 4-1 victory over the Panthers at Billy Bullens Field.

“It was a little frustrating,” admitted Pioneer head coach Jordan Branson of the loss. “We hit the ball hard a few times. Everyone put the ball in play. Give their pitcher credit, he threw strikes. We were prepared but the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”

St. Mary’s (14-7), the defending WMass Division IV and state champion, fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first as the Pioneer offense got to work quickly. Jared Ackerman walked with one out and moved to second on a groundout. Zack Renaud came through with the first of the Panthers’ two hits on the night, drilling a single up the middle that plated Ackerman for the game’s opening tally.

The Saints tied the game in the bottom of the second. Matt Masciadrelli singled home Kevin Rockwal (walk) to make it a 1-1 contest, but Pioneer starting and losing pitcher Jacob Hubbard worked out of a bases-loaded jam by getting a pop-out to shortstop Jack Loud to retire the side.

Both offenses fell silent over the middle innings, with Pioneer’s lone hit the rest of the way coming on a Loud single in the top of the third. In the fourth, Jordan Loughman reached on an error and eventually moved to third after a walk to Jacob Quinn and a ground out. With runners on the corners and two outs however, the 11-10 Panthers ran into an out at second base when an attempted double steal went awry.

“We made two or three physical mistakes, missed signs, things like that which really hurt us and came back to bite us,” Branson offered.

St. Mary’s broke the deadlock in the home half of the fifth. With the top of the order up, Matt Masciadrelli singled and Jack Masciadrelli followed with an RBI double that put the hosts on top, 2-1. The Saints weren’t done, however, and Rockwal came through with the big blow. After intentionally walking Powers to load the bases with one out, Hubbard allowed a two-run double to Rockwal, extending the home team’s advantage to 4-1.

“We had that one rough inning where a couple of their balls fell and that’s all it can take,” admitted Branson.

Powers shut the door from there. The St. Mary’s hurler retired the final 10 batters he faced, getting the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to seal the deal in a tidy 86 minutes.

“They’re a quality baseball team,” offered Branson of St. Mary’s. “I thank luck a little for holding us in the game when we made a few mistakes early, but eventually they were able to break through.”

Hubbard wound up tossing a complete-game in defeat. The senior southpaw struck out four, walked three, and allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings of work. The Saints offense received hits from eight of the nine batters in the lineup.

St. Mary’s advanced to the semifinals and a matchup with No. 2 McCann Technical School (19-2) on Wednesday at Westfield State University.

The loss was the final game for Pioneer’s five seniors, Ackerman, Loughman, Hubbard, Cody Letourneau and Peyton Doherty.

“They’re all leaders,” lauded Branson of his senior class. “Losing them, that’s only going to make my job harder for next year. It’s a great group of kids and they’ve all worked extremely hard over their careers.”