Nichols Pitches Hoosac Past Drury
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Mowing down the first eight men to come to the plate, stranding six runners over the last four innings, Justin Nichols was on fire for the Hoosac Valley baseball team on Wednesday night.
Turns out that fire had been smoldering for eight days.
"There was a lot of pressure on us the last game, considering it was our Senior Night," Nichols said after pitching Hoosac to a 3-0 win over Drury under the lights at Joe Wolfe Field.
"We just wanted to come back and do the same thing to them."
That last game, at Hoosac on May 13, was a 15-5 win for the Blue Devils in which the Hurricanes committed four errors and surrendered 15 hits.
Nichols was the starter for both contests.
"It was a little disappointing," he said of the first meeting. "It felt like maybe I tried to throw a little too hard. This time, I just tried to hit my spots."
Nichols struck out four and walked just two in a complete-game shutout.
He let his defense do the rest, as Hoosac played error-free ball to improve to 9-8.
Offensively, Hoosac scratched out single runs in the second, third and sixth. Two of those runs were unearned against Drury starter Tyler Briggs.
In the second, Brandon Tworig singled to right, stole second, moved up on a passed ball and came home on an error.
In the third, Nichols walked, was bunted over by Nate Tomkiewicz, went to third on an erro r and scored on a balk.
In the sixth, Sean Ryan-Kut singled up the middle, got into scoring position on Ty Clark's groundout to first and scored on an RBI single by Joey Buonemani.
Buonemani had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and that RBI, but otherwise Briggs was solid for the
Blue Devils (13-5). He struck out six and allowed six hits and two walks in drawing a hard-luck loss.
After struggling early at the plate to get anything going against Nichols, Drury put men in scoring position in the fifth, sixth and seventh but could not get a run across.
The closest it came to scoring may have been in the fourth, with a man on first and two out, when Jake Tatro launched a shot deep into left field. John Lewis was able to run the ball down and make the catch to end the inning.
Drury saw a four-game winning streak snapped, but it has won seven of its last nine going into its final two regular-season games, Friday at Lee and Sunday against Catholic Central.
Drury coach Patrick Boulger said it's good that his team has two games to put Wednesday's loss in the rear view mirror before going into the Western Massachusetts tournament next week.
"I told the guys just now: Going into the tournament, maybe getting a loss out of your system, getting that feeling again of knowing, 'We don't like this feeling,' may not be the worst thing," Boulger said. "Not that it's OK to lose, and I don't want to ever say I want to lose.
"I think we put out a good, quality performance. I have to tip my hat to Hoosac tonight. Defensively, they made a lot of good stops. Nichols threw a helluva game. I give him a lot of credit. He kept our hitters in check."