Monument Mountain Tops Taconic in Class B Final
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The Monument Mountain baseball team Wednesday got the hot start that it wanted and the pitching that it needed.
The combination added up to a 5-3 win over Taconic in the Western Massachusetts Class B Championship Game on Westfield State's Hagan Field.
Collin Parker and Jack Bissaillon combined to allow just six hits, and the pair got all the offensive support it needed with a four-run first inning for the third-seeded Spartans.
Monument Mountain coach Tom Hankey said he hoped that his offense could find a way to get to Taconic ace Matt Lee in the first inning.
"He hasn't thrown in a while, and we weren't sure how sharp he was going to be right off the bat," Hankey said. "Our game plan was to keep fouling pitches off and make him work as hard as we could.
"We got a couple of breaks, and we had a couple of key hits."
Bissaillon and Dom Velasco led off the game with back-to-back walks. Jayder Raifstanger then singled to left to load the bases with nobody out.
Cole Bissaillon then worked an eight-pitch walk to drive in a run, and Owen Wade hit a sacrifce fly to right to score Velasco and make it 2-0.
A pitch that got to the backstop allowed Raifstanger to score and sent Cole Bissaillon to third. He then scored on another errant pitch before Lee was able to record a strikeout to get out of the inning with Monument Mountain up, 4-0.
The Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the top of the fourth.
Parker drew a leadoff walk and strole a pair of bases before coming home on Jack Bissaillon's two-out RBI single up the middle to make it 5-0.
The insurance came in handy when the Thunder finally got on the board in the bottom of the frame. Taconic scored three times in the inning, getting RBIs from Eddie Ferris, Gavin O'Donnell and Lee to pull within two.
Parker closed the door on the rally with a groundball to Jack Bissaillon at third to strand a pair.
"I can't say enough about our pitching," Hankey said. "Collin and Jack did a tremendous job. Collin has been a bulldog for us all year. And Jack, being a sophomore, it's a huge step for him.
"[Parker], next to Matt [Lee], I think is the next best pitcher in the county. I haven't seen the other kid from Taconic pitch, but [Parker] is just a bulldog."
Parker stranded two more runners in the bottom of the fifth before giving the ball to Jack Bissaillon to start the sixth.
After a 1-2-3 inning in that sixth, Bissaillon ran into a speed bump in the seventh, walking a pair after starting with a strikeout and getting a visit from Hankey.
"I was just trying to settle him down a little bit, reset him a little bit," Hankey said. "He's an emotional pitcher. A couple of border line pitches didn't go his way. So we just needed to reset ourselves and execute the next pitch.
"That's basically what I told him. And the kid gets better and better each time he's out there. I'm so happy for him."
Bissaillon got the next hitter to ground into a fielder's choice to Raifstanger at second. And with runners at the corners, he got a swinging third strike to end the game.
Wednesday's loss does not end Taconic's season. Earlier in the day, it was installed as the top seed in the Division 3 state tournament. The Thunder (17-3) will be home on Monday against either Nipmuc or Boston Latin, who meet in a play-in round game on Thursday.
Monument Mountain (18-3) is seeded seventh in the D4 tourney. It will be home in the Round of 32 against either Lunenburg or Snowden International, who meet on Thursday.
Bissaillon's inning-ending strikeout Wednesday touched off a wild celebration for the Spartans, who not only claimed the regional title but also got the program's first win against Taconic since 2018, an 0-5 stretch.
"[Taconic coach Kevin Stannard] and I are great friends," Hankey said. "We've been doing this for a long time, and we've had some great battles through the years.
"This was definitely up with one of the best wins for the Monument Mountain program for sure. It's up there for sure."