Spirited Hurricanes Win with Heart
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- There are few teams hotter than the Hoosac Valley baseball team.
There are no teams that are having more fun than the Hurricanes.
Hoosac Valley on Thursday won for the 12th time in its last 15 games, upsetting Mount Greylock, 10-4, to earn a berth in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarter-finals.
Tenth-seeded Hoosac (13-8) avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Mounties and earned a date in Monday’s sectional semi-finals against second-seeded Southwick, which earned a bye through the first round.
“The kids believe in themselves, and I think that’s big,” Hoosac coach Mike Larabee said. “We play with a lot of heart, and that’s nice -- when you have a team like that.
“It’s fun to coach these guys. We come to practice every day, and we bust our tails every day. It’s a good group.”
Chris Larabee went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and John Krol and Keagan McGrath each doubled in a 10-hit Hoosac attack. The Hurricanes scored at least a run in five different innings, never taking the foot off the gas after picking up a couple of unearned runs in the first.
On the mound, Matt Koperniak worked with runners on base most of the afternoon, allowing five hits and giving up seven walks and a hit batter. But he came through when the Hurricanes needed it most, stranding eight men in a complete-game win.
“He was not dominant,” Larabee said. “But he’s that type of kid -- he’s a battler. We have a lot of confidence in him. It was tough, but we battled. It was a tough game. … We beat a real nice team.”
Seventh-seeded Mount Greylock (10-11) got a 2-for-2 performance from Cal Messina, who tripled and drove in a couple of runs. Starter Brandon Condon got into the sixth inning, allowing six runs but just three earned runs.
The big Achilles heel for the defending Western Mass champions was defense, as Mount Greylock committed four errors.
“We know that we’re not the type of team that’s going to put up nine, 10 runs per game,” Mount Greylock coach Steve Messina said. “We’re not going to hit the ball over the fence. We know that.
“So in order for us to be successful, we have to be perfect. We have to make all the plays. And right in the first inning, we kind of put ourselves in the hole a little bit. … We could have gotten out of it with nothing, but instead they scored two because of an error.”
On the other side, Hoosac did not commit its first error until the bottom of the seventh, which it entered with a 10-3 lead.
“We’ve really been working on our defense a lot,” Mike Larabee said. “We know that in tournament play, you’ve got to play defense. We just don’t give up. We play hard, and we work hard on it.”
Hoosac broke open a 5-3 game with a three-run sixth inning.
Chris Larabee got it started with a double to right, and J.P. Levesque followed with a single to left to put runners on the corners. After Levesque stole second, Mount Greylock gave Koperniak and intentional free pass.
Dahndray Sistrunk then stung a two-run single that moved Koperniak to third. Noah Matrigali picked up the RBI with a ground ball out to make it 8-3.
While Hoosac moves on to the semis, Mount Greylock wraps up a season that saw Messina pick up his 300th win and the team reinvent itself after losing nine seniors from last year’s run to the state title game.
Pitchers Josh Jezouit and Adam Hall and shortstop Brodie Altiere were the main holdovers from last year’s Mount Greylock squad. They all graduate, along with Hunter Abriel, Jack Milne and Adam Petricca.
“Brodie is the only [position player] returning from last year who had significant time,” Messina said. “He played shortstop last year and hit and had a great year. I can understand what he went through. … He went to having an entirely different set of faces. It’s a tough thing for the entire team to get past.
“Doing as well as we did last year is great. But the downside is to follow that up and coming back with a completely new set of kids with the exception of one. I think it was really hard on those guys.
“It was really important for those guys to lead and show by example, and they did.”