Lescarbeau, Drury Take Must-Win Game to Clinch Tourney Berth

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – While other teams around the region have been playing in the Western Mass tournament this week, the Drury baseball team has, after a fashion, been playing in the state tournament.
A week ago, the Blue Devils sported a record of 7-10 and knew that they needed to win out in order to finish .500 and qualify for the Division 5 state tourney.
Mission accomplished.
Nick Lescarbeau struck out seven and scattered three hits in a complete-game shutout Friday as Drury beat Athol, 6-0, for win No. 10 on the season.
Lescarbeau bookended the week for the Blue Devils. Last Saturday, he threw 8-⅔ innings of shutout ball in relief to beat Lenox in 10 innings.
“Yeah, I’m on a roll here,” he said as his teammates celebrated around him. “I’ve been locked in all season. The most runs I’ve allowed has been four. I’m just locked in right now.”
Drury coach Robert Jutras would agree.
“He’s tremendous,” Jutras said. “He’s playing with a lot of heart. He pitches with great tempo. He gets three pitches over for strikes. He keeps them off balance. He does a pretty good job of controlling the running game.
“And he’s just, you know, a competitor. And that’s what our guys love about him. We know we can feel confident when he’s out there. He does a great job of keeping us in games and gives us a shot.”
The Bears got men in scoring position three times on Friday, and each time, Lescarbeau had the answer.
In the top of the first, Athol had two on and two out, and the junior induced a ground ball to the right side to end the inning. In the second, the visitors put a runner at second with one out, but Lescarbeau struck out the next hitter and got the third out on a fly ball. In the fifth, the Bears again got to second base with two out, but the next hitter popped up to foul territory on the first base side, and Lescarbeau made the catch to end the threat.
“I came up with a lot of new stuff,” Lescarbeau said of his day. “The splitter was working. That’s brand new. The offspeed was working. I got a lot of outside calls, too.
“I had them off a lot. They were guessing out there a lot today.”
Lescarbeau’s offense gave him all the run support he needed with a three-run second inning.
After Noah Miller was hit by a pitch and Connor Hinkell drew a walk, Hunter Marceau drove them home with a two-run single to left to open the scoring. Hinkell eventually came home on one of six pitches to the backstop by the Athol battery, which also allowed five walks and a pair of hit batters.
Miller was in the middle of Drury’s two-run rally in the third, reaching on a bunt with Lescarbeau on second; an errant throw to first allowed Lescarbeau to score and Miller to reach second. He eventually scored when Logan Davis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
In the fifth, Hinkell walked and moved up on three straight pitches to the backstop to make it 6-0.
It may not have been the prettiest game from an offensive perspective, but that three-game winning streak looks beautiful on the stat sheet, especially considering the takes.
“We knew we had our backs against the wall,” Lescarbeau said. “We knew we had to fight for our lives, and we do really well when we’re like that. We had a run earlier this season just like that, too. So I’m glad we pulled through here.”
At the end of April, Drury was 4-7 and won three straight to get back to .500.
Whatever happens with the playoff seeds and a likely road trip in the play-in round of the state tourney, the Blue Devils know they have proven that they belong.
“We definitely weren’t perfect this year, but they don’t let just anybody into the tournament,” Jutras said. “We’re going to take full advantage of that opportunity. Whenever you get a chance to play in the post-season … we’re just going to have fun and try to play great baseball.”
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