Class D baseball: Ware outlasts Pioneer 2-1 in 11 innings to win WMass title (PHOTOS)

Pioneer catcher Braeden Tsipenyuk tags out Ware’s Jack McKeever (3) at the plate during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

Pioneer catcher Braeden Tsipenyuk tags out Ware’s Jack McKeever (3) at the plate during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Jackson Campbell (6) puts the ball in play during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final against Ware on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

Pioneer’s Jackson Campbell (6) puts the ball in play during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final against Ware on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski throws a pitch against Ware during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski throws a pitch against Ware during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday night at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer shortstop Alex McClelland throws out a Ware runner during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

Pioneer shortstop Alex McClelland throws out a Ware runner during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer shortstop Alex McClelland, left, is congratulated by teammates Ethan Mauthe and Ben Werner (7) after making a catch against Ware during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

Pioneer shortstop Alex McClelland, left, is congratulated by teammates Ethan Mauthe and Ben Werner (7) after making a catch against Ware during the Western Mass. Class D baseball final on Tuesday at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2024 10:58 PM

HOLYOKE — The rematch of the 2023 Western Mass. Class D title game lived up to the hype. 

Top-seeded Pioneer entered Tuesday’s Class D final against No. 2 Ware hoping to avenge its loss from last year’s championship — a 2-1 Ware win in 10 innings — and after seven innings on Tuesday at MacKenzie Stadium, the game was almost a carbon copy. 

The Panthers and Ware were knotted 1-1 after seven, forcing the game to extras. Neither team was able to score in the eighth, ninth or 10th, but Ware finally broke the deadlock in the top of the 11th.

Jack McKeever walked and Nate Kaczuwka singled to put a pair on for Dylan Sutkaitis. The senior blasted a single up the middle to score McKeever and give Ware a 2-1 lead. 

Pioneer wasn’t done there. Ben Werner and Jackson Glazier singled in the home half of the 11th before Alex McClelland walked with two outs to load the bases. Ware’s Brady Guimond managed to get a flyout to close things out, with Ware taking the Class D championship via a 2-1 victory. 

“As the game goes on, we knew how it felt from last year going into extra innings,” Panthers coach Kevin Luippold said. “It’s exciting though and that’s what baseball is about. Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the 11th, it’s a cool feeling. These kids have a lot to be thankful for and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.” 

It was Jackson Glazier who kept the Panthers (16-5) in the game in extras. 

The freshman came on in relief for Hugh Cyhowski — who pitched 6 1/3, struck out eight and allowed just the one run — and went the rest of the way. Glazier struck out five and scattered four hits, but no inning was more important than the ninth. 

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

PHOTOS: Fight prompts brief traffic backup on Hope Street in Greenfield
Sunderland Bridge being reduced to one-lane traffic next week
Div. 5 softball: Turners Falls father-daughter duo of assistant coach Jay Liimatainen, pitcher Madi Liimatainen celebrate Father’s Day weekend as state champions
Div. 5 softball: Turners Falls blanks Georgetown 5-0, captures MIAA-record 11th state championship in program history (PHOTOS)
In new hands, Green River Festival returns with headliners CAKE, Fleet Foxes and Gregory Alan Isakov
Mutton and Mead organizers chart new course with ‘Roads to Revelry’

Ware’s Kyle Kaczuwka started the ninth by roping a double, and John Mumper followed with a single to put runners on first and third with one out. 

Facing the top of the order, Glazier recorded a strikeout before Sutkaitis was intentionally walked to load the bases. Glazier was able to get a strikeout to end the inning and keep it tied.

“Jack came in and shut them down,” Luippold said. “For a freshman, he took it and ran. He did such a fantastic job. Nobody expects to come on in relief for five innings. To have that mindset to give us five extra chances at the plate, I couldn’t have asked more from him. He was fantastic out there.” 

Leaving runners on was an issue for Pioneer throughout. The Panthers scattered nine hits but were unable to string them together to get runs across. 

Ware (15-6) received strong pitching performances from its two hurlers. Nate Kaczuwka got the start and went five innings, striking out two and scattering four hits. 

Guimond pitched the final six innings and didn’t give up a run, striking out three and allowing five hits. 

“We had a lot of line drives right to people,” Luippold said. “That’s just how the game is played sometimes. Ware’s a good team.” 

Pioneer opened the scoring in the fourth. Ethan Mauthe walked, moved to second on a Jackson Campbell ground out and scored after Werner blasted a base hit, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead going into the fifth. 

The lead didn’t last long. A pair of walks to open the top of the fifth put two runners on for Ware’s John Mumper, who roped a single to score Octavio Cotaj, tying the game. 

While Cyhowski kept Ware off the scoreboard early, his defense made numerous plays behind him. 

Pioneer recorded a double play to end the first, Jackson Campbell threw a runner out at home before Braeden Tsipenyuk tossed a runner out stealing second in the third to keep Ware off the board. 

“Hugh gave us a shot in the beginning,” Luippold said. “I knew it was going to extra innings when I saw the scoreboard in the sixth. He kept the balls low and defensively, we made great plays behind him.” 

Werner tallied three hits, Glazier and Tsipenyuk each cracked two hits while McClelland and Cyhowski hit safely for Pioneer. 

The teams now shift their focus to the MIAA Division 5 state tournament, which begins later this week.