Hinkell Pitches Drury Past Hoosac Valley
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Drury’s Connor Hinkell could have asked for an easier spot to take the ball.
The Blue Devils were down 2-0, and rival Hoosac Valley had the bases loaded in the top of the first inning on Tuesday at Alcombright Field.
That is when coach Robert Jutras called on Hinkell to move from second base to the mound.
The seventh-grader got the first man he faced on a swinging third strike and proceeded to strike out six more over 4-⅓ innings to earn the win as Drury closed the regular season with an 8-4 win over the Hurricanes.
“Connor is around the zone, he can throw all three pitches,” Jutras said. “We had the bases juiced, and he needed to act, and he got us out of it. Getting out of that one without a lot more damage was big.
“He works hard. And I just love the attitude and the approach and the consistency from him.”
After Hinkell got his team into the dugout with a 2-0 deficit, Drury scored three in the bottom of the first and never looked back.
Hinkell got things started with a single to left, the only hit the Blue Devils needed in the rally. Noah Miller, Zach Davignon and Logan Crockwell each earned a walk, and Dylan Crockwell reached on an error.
In the second, the Blue Devils added a pair of runs thanks to an RBI single by Hinkell (3-for-3) and a sac fly by Miller.
In the third, Hinkell, Dylan Crockwell and Logan Crockwell each singled in another two-run rally to make it 7-2.
Hinkell then struck out the side in order in the fourth for his strongest inning. He went on to strikeout the leadoff man in the fifth -- his fifth straight K. Hoosac Valley loaded the bases with two out, but Hinkell ended the inning on a flyball to first.
The Blue Devils stretched their lead to 8-2 in the sixth. Miller was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved up on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Hoosac Valley scored twice in the top of the seventh thanks to an RBI double by Caleb Harrington, who scored on the play thanks to an overthrow.
But Bailey Alcombright ended the Hoosac rally and the game with back to back strikeouts.
Jutras said he planned going into the game to use a few arms, because he will not know until tomorrow’s seeding meeting where -- or, more importantly, when -- the Blue Devils will start play in the Western Massachusetts tournament.
“With the pitch counts, we knew we had a chance to go Friday or Saturday in a play-in game, so to have everybody available, we knew we had to limit pitches,” Jutras said. “Fifty-five was our limit, and if we wanted guys available for those days, we had to keep them under that.”