Senior-Laden Mounties Reach Western Mass Final

By Shannon Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- It was a fourth inning rally that led the top-seeded Mount Greylock baseball team to a 13-3 victory over No. 5 South Hadley in the Division 3 Western Massachusetts semi-finals Wednesday afternoon at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Athletic Complex.
The Tigers struck drew blood in the top of the first inning, going ahead 2-0 with a two-run double from Brian Bak with two outs. Bak was then stranded at second after Alex Dragon grounded out to first.
The Mounties had one hit in the bottom of the inning from senior Eric Hirsch, but the Mounties couldn't bring him home.
South Hadley plated another in the third inning after retiring the Mounties in order in the second. The run came from Chris Jarrett on an Ian Brink wild pitch, putting the Tigers ahead, 3-0.
Brink led off for the Mounties in the bottom of the fourth, starting the rally that then became contagious. Following Brink was senior Jake Benzinger, putting two on with no outs. Senior Delaney Pudvar then hit a two-run double putting Greylock down by one.
Senior Dan Flynn then got on base and was followed by a two-run double from senior Andrew Rickus, putting Mount Greylock ahead by one.
The rally continued. Senior Jesse Dilego stepped up the plate and bunted, beating out a single. An overthrow sent Dilego to second and scored Rickus. Senior Brodie Altiere then had and RBI single, followed by a RBI triple for Brink and an RBI single for Benzinger, giving the Mounties an 8-3 lead after four.
"We were pressing a little bit, we were out in front and hitting off our front foot, their pitcher was crafty he wasn't throwing real hard," Mount Greylock coach Steve Messina said. "We kept talking about it between innings, to stay back, keep your weight back, just let the ball come to you and don't try to do too much.
"Finally they were able to make good contact and put the ball in play hard. After that it's contagious, once you starting hitting, everyone starts to hit and that's what happened."
The Mounties totaled 10 hits in the fourth inning and added five more in the fifth; bringing in five runs.
It started with an RBI single for Micahel Strizzi, followed by another from Hirsch. Brink ended it with a two-run home run, putting the score at 13-3 where it would remain through the final two innings.
"I was comfortable because we already had a 10-3 lead at the time," Brink said. "My main motive at the time was to just hit the ball up the middle, which it is everytime, and I just got lucky. I got all of that one."
Brink pitched five innings for the win, totaling four strikeout and allowing three runs. The Tigers had nine hits off of him, but the Greylock defense played perfect behind him Wednesday afternoon, allowing no errors.
"In the first couple of innings I struggled a bit getting ahead of the count," Brink said. "Every ball that was hit, the defense behind me made the plays and that's what we need."
Altiere at shortstop ended the seventh inning with a bare-handed grab, throwing the runner out at first and securing the Mounties a trip to the finals.
"He's our best guy and South Hadley is a very good team and we have to win today in order to play at UMass on Saturday," Messina said of his decision of starting Brink on the mound. "Our whole defense has been playing really well too, so I think our pitchers are really comfortable with our defense, so they're not afraid to throw strikes and let them hit it, it's good to have that confidence with pitchers."
Josh Jezouit closed on the mound for Greylock, replacing Brink in the sixth inning, striking out three. The Mounties had 1-2-3 innings in both the sixth and seventh inning.
Mount Greylock will play the seventh seeded Hampshire on Saturday at UMass. The Raiders defeated No.3 Wahconah Wednesday afternoon, 2-1.
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