Kirchner Pitches Wahconah to Tourney-Clinching Win
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Wahconah junior Kyle Kirchner has been a big game pitcher all season.
On Friday, he won the biggest game of his team's season.
Kirchner struck out six and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning as Wahconah knocked off St. Joseph, 9-2, in the Berkshire Baseball Classic.
The Classic win was nice, but the real story was that Friday marked win No. 10 for Wahconah, which punched its ticket for the Western Mass tournament with Friday's win at the Doyle Complex.
"He did today what he's done all throughout the season," Wahconah coach Jared Shannon said. "He pitched our tough games. He pitched against Greylock and Pittsfield and Southwick.
"He was able to locate his fastball, keep it around the knees, good movement. And he kept his pitch count pretty low. He's efficient, and he kind of got away from that the last couple of games. He had one or two rough outings. But that was because he was pitching on short rest. He's finally on full rest, and hopefully going to the tournament he'll be able to keep doing that."
Kirchner was in total command through four innings. His only hiccup was a hit batter with two out in the first that catcher Matt Schneider erased trying to steal second.
But leading off the bottom of the fifth, Devin Johnston took a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right center to break up the no-hitter and the shutout bid.
"I let that one go, and he hit it deep," Kirchner said. "It was kind of the first ball I misplaced all day. But the team got behind us, and we finished it out."
Kirchner's first mistake on the mound came after a long, six-run top of the first for the Wahconah offense that broke open a 2-0 game.
He said the layoff might have affected his rhythm going to the bottom of the inning.
"Yeah, we may have gotten a little slow after that," Kirchner said.
He righted the ship, allowing just one more run on three hits in the bottom of the sixth.
His opposite number, Jay Coyne, was nearly as effective over the first four innings.
Coyne allowed one in the first and one in the fourth while striking out five.
"He pitched well," Crusaders coach Dennis Murphy said. "Young kid, freshman. Our freshmen really have pitched a lot over the last half of the season, and they're getting it done.
"We had one bad inning, and usually one bad inning all year is what's gotten us. I've decided to let those guys go and get a little on-the-job training."
Kyle Crocker came on in the sixth and pitched the last two innings for St. Joseph (3-13).
Wahconah (10-9) got its first run on a wild pitch after Collin Parrott worked a leadoff walk, stole second and moved up on a passed ball.
In the fourth, Ryan Washburn hit a two-out solo shot to about the same spot Johnston would visit an inning later.
Wahconah did most of its damage in the fifth.
Parrott, Schneider, Ethan Wells and Patrick Jamross each drove in runs, and a wild pitch and an error brought home two more as Wahconah opened up an 8-0 lead.
After Johnston's solo shot got St. Joe on the board, Parrot got the lead back to eight by scoring from second on an error.
John Fontaine provided the game's final run with a bases-loaded RBI single down the line in left. The Crusaders attempted to score two on the ball, but Jamross gunned down the runner at the plate.
Wahconah has one piece of unfinished business before heading to the tourney: the completion of an extra-innings game against Lenox that was ended because of darkness. The two teams are scheduled to meet on Monday in a game that still has meaning for Wahconah, Shannon said.
"I was looking at things today, and I think we have a shot to get a home game in the preliminary round," he said. "We're certainly not going to get a bye, but our schedule is tough. Our schedule is really tough. We play five Division 1 teams and 10 Division 2 teams that are all good -- Southwick, Greylock, Monument twice.
"Hopefully, when it stacks up, if we can get that 11th win, we'd love to play a home game."