Bryce's Walkoff Double Powers Drury

By Stephen Sports
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NORTH ADAMS -- A little extra practice for Kodey Bryce made a perfect ending for the Drury High School baseball team on Friday night.

With two out and two on in the bottom of the seventh, the senior first baseman drilled a 1-2 pitch into right-center field for a two-run double that gave the Blue Devils a 5-4 win over rival Hoosac Valley on Joe Wolfe Field.

"It doesn't even seem real right now," Bryce said after a long celebration under the stars. "It's like a dream."

Drury coach Al Marceau explained that Bryce's Friday night come true was grounded in the reality of an extra hitting session on Thursday afternoon.

"He'd been struggling," Marceau said. "I thought we had him fixed down at Lee. He hit the ball hard. And then he struggled in practice. And he's his own worst enemy: another senior who wants to be perfect. And it doesn't happen.

"But he came down with his dad an hour and a half before the practice last night and just hit. We talked about what he needed to work on, and he did everything right. They threw him a slow breaking ball, which we had been jumping out on and popping it up or beating it into the ground. And he just did a nice job keeping his hands back and then just exploding.

"It was a good, textbook approach right there."

Drury (7-8) had trouble reading Hoosac pitcher Matt Braman all night.

The Hurricanes' rightie allowed just two earned runs and scattered six hits going into the bottom of the seventh.

And although he was north of 100 pitches, Hoosac coach Bob Rivard had no qualms about sending Braman back to the mound to close out the game.

"He didn't look like it was wear and tear," Rivard said. "He just hung a curve ball, and the kid slapped right where he needed to slap it to score two runs. But I don't think he threw badly."

In fact, Braman nearly got the game-ending strikeout twice in the seventh.

He started the inning by retiring leadoff man Kareen Beckett on a ground ball to second base and then allowed an infield single to put Logan Rumbolt aboard.

After Rumbolt stole second, Ryan Ouimet hit a fly ball to right to move the tying run to third and bring cleanup man Nolan Bird to the plate.

Bird had struggled all night -- striking out twice and grounding to second in his most recent at-bat, a trip that sent him storming into the dugout.

"He's been so clutch all year," Marceau said. "He leads the team in two-out RBIs. He leads the team in RBIs. He's been hitting the cover off the ball. And he let the Drury-Hoosac thing get in his head."

It stayed there in the seventh, when Bird swung at two high fastballs to fall behind 0-2.

"Those first two swings, I thought, 'Oh boy,' " Marceau said.

But Bird worked a seven-pitch walk, laying off borderline pitches on balls three and four, to put runners on first and third and set the stage for Bryce's heroics.

Rumbolt and Ouimet each had two hits for Drury, which also got RBIs from Tyler Briggs and Jake Tatro.

Briggs also got the win in relief of a strong effort by Blue Devils starter Tyler Cote.

Cote struck out six, walked six and allowed just four hits before departing with one out in the sixth and his team down, 4-3. Briggs got a strikeout and a a ground ball to strand a runner on third and retired the side in order in the top of the seventh.

Matt Koperniak had the big hit in a four-run second for Hoosac (9-7). His two-out single to right brought home John Lewis and Justin Nichols to give the 'Canes a 4-0 lead at the time.

Drury came back with a run in the second and two in the third to get within one.

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