Letich, Buffis Lead Mounties into Semifinals
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Mount Greylock Regional High School's baseball coach says Rob Buffis is the kind of pitcher that kids like to play behind.
The Mounties showed Saturday just how much.
Mount Greylock played sterling defense and pounded out 18 hits in six innings to back up Buffis and move ahead to the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinals with a 15-1 win over Drury.
Andrew Leitch led the hit parade with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, and his brother Eric turned two doube plays at shortstop. But the 6-3 putouts that ended the second and third innings were just the tip of the iceberg defensively for the Mounties.
In the fourth, Eddie Dufur made a diving catch on a line drive at second base that the large crowd won't soon forget. In the sixth, left fielder Derek Romejko came in to make a sliding catch that stole a hit. And in the seventh, catcher Nick DiSanti battled the sun and made a diving catch on a foul popup to end the game.
In the end, Buffis allowed just two hits over six innings before letting Ben Coleman finish up.
"My defense is always phenomenal," Buffis said. "They always make plays behind me. I just have to let 'em hit the ball, and you can guarantee they're going to make plays.
"Eddie's been solid all year, and you expect it from players like him. They always make plays like that, so it's nothing new.
"It was a heck of a play, though."
Mount Greylock coach Steve Messina said Buffis' approach on the mound lends itself to good defense.
"Robbie did a great job," Messina said. "He's been pitching really, really well for us lately, and our kids play well behind him because they know he's going to throw strikes, for the most part. ... He's not goign to strike out every kid, but they know he's goign to put the ball around plate, and they're going to have to make plays.
"They're comfortable when he pitches, and he was pounding the strike zone out there today."
Buffis allowed just one walk and struck out three as the second-seeded Mounties improved to 17-3 and earned a spot in Wednesday's semifinals.
The walk came on four pitches to start the fifth inning. Buffis, who did not hit Saturday, showed the effects of a long layoff from Mount Greylock's five-run fourth, which featured 11 hitters and a pitching change.
Buffis missed the strike zone on his first six pitches to start the fifth. Then, after a visit from Messina, he struck out the next two and got a ground ball to second to leave the runner stranded at first.
"Listen, they're good," Drury coach Al Marceau said after his Blue Devils ended the year at 10-10. "They've got good pitching, and they've got one through nine hit the ball.
"They don't have a weak spot. We made a couple of mistakes to extend innings, but they made defensive plays."
And the Mounties scored more than 10 runs for the second game in a row and 11th time this season.
It got started in the first when DiSanti singled up the middle to score two runs and ended up coming home on an Ian Brink single to center.
Drury got a run back in second. Logan Rumbolt singled, moved up on Kodey Bryce's sacrifice bunt, got to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground ball.
In the third, Brink picked up his second RBI of the game to get the lead back to 4-1.
Then came the fourth, when the Mounties batted around and broke the game open. Leitch had the big hit with an RBI double, but Sean Houston, Jack Thistle, Ben Alley, Dufur and Romejko each had a hit in the rally.
Alley's two-run double was the big blow in a five-run sixth that ended all hope for a Drury comeback.
Mount Greylock now awaits the winner of Monday night's game in Palmer betwee the third-seeded Panthers (14-6) and No. 11 Athol (11-10). Last year, Mount Greylock was a three seed itself before bowing out in the semis.
This year, the Mounties are looking for more.
"I think we've got the numbers, and I think we've got the pitching," senior Andrew Leitch said. "We just have to come out and execute. Like coach said, we have to be focused every pitch, every play. We cannot take a play off, or else that will be one they can do some damage against us. The only team that can beat us right now is ourselves."