By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports -
05:20PM / Tuesday, May 15, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — In a showdown between two of North County’s best high school baseball pitchers, Drury senior Robert Jutras got the better of things in every way except on the scoreboard.
Jutras struck out eight, walked one and went the distance, but three unearned runs proved costly in a 7-3 loss to Hoosac Valley on Saturday morning at Joe Wolfe Field. Hoosac ace Mike Koperniak combined with Tanner Bird for the victory after the southpaw starter was chased in the bottom of the fourth.
All 10 runs were scored in that fourth inning, starting with a Hurricanes rally that was helped by a Drury misplay in the infield. After Bird led off the inning with the first hit off Jutras, Zach Brassard singled up the middle before Corey Meczywor attempted to sacrifice both runners into scoring position. But the Blue Devils blew their assignments on the play, allowing Meczywor to reach safely and leaving the door wide open for a big inning.
“We gave them the game,” Drury head coach Al Marceau said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, if we cover, it’s one out, and the next kid hits one back to the pitcher, and then it’s two outs, and then I think there was a fielder’s choice or something like that.
“That’s been the story of our year. We’re good athletes but not baseball players. You’ve got to know the game.”
The knockout blow came three batters after Meczywor’s bunt. Hoosac senior Adam Mazzantini blasted a three-run double to right center to make it 4-0. Jesse Larabee, Bird and Brassard each drove in runs to complete the rally and give Hoosac a 7-0 cushion.
That looked like plenty for Koperniak, who came in with a 5-0 record and a 1.08 ERA while allowing just two hits through the first three innings of play. But two walks, an infield single, a wild pitch and a two-run single by Ryan Ouimet got the Devils (6-7) on the board in a hurry and brought Bird in from shortstop to finish the game on the hill.
“Mike just didn’t have it today,” Hoosac head coach Bob Rivard said. “It looked it was his mechanics, and that’s probably my fault. “He hasn’t pitched in almost 10 days because of the weather. You don’t want to have him go out there and throw a long bullpen session and then need him in relief or something.”
Koperniak walked seven, struck out six and allowed four hits and three earned runs in three and two-third innings. Bird got the first hitter he faced to pop up to the mound to strand two runners and gave up just two hits the rest of the way to pick up his first win of the year.
Hoosac (9-4) amassed 10 hits with Larabee and Brassard each accounting for two. Offensively, Rivard was pleased with his team’s production with two strikes in that fourth-inning rally. Matt Braman, Mazzantini, Larabee and Brassard each got a hit in a two-strike count, and Tanner’s sacrifice fly came on an 0-2 pitch.
But the Hoosac coach also was impressed with Jutras, who came in with a 2-3 record and a 1.59 ERA.
“He had one bad inning, and our guy had one bad inning,” Rivard said. “We were just able to do a little more with it. [Jutras] was strong. He had a good breaking ball and a fastball.”
Jutras lasted just one and one-third innings the first time these teams played, a 16-1 season-opening win for the ‘Canes. Drury saw a two-game winning streak come to an end and will look to get back in the win column with a game at Mount Greylock at 4 p.m. on Monday. Hoosac next plays at Mohawk on the same time that day.