Wade, Raifstanger Pitch Spartans to League Crown
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – A week and a half ago, the Monument Mountain baseball team dropped a 9-2 decision in Williamstown for its third straight loss.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Spartans avenged that defeat and won their fifth straight game, knocking off Mount Greylock, 3-0, behind the pitching of Owen Wade and Jayder Raifstanger.
Wade struck out four in four innings before handing the ball to Raifstanger, who also powered Monument Mountain’s offense by going 2-for-3 with an RBI to help the Spartans finish the regular season 15-3 heading into next week’s Western Mass tournament.
And to put icing on the cake, the Spartans secured an outright Suburban East Championship.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” Monument Mountain coach Tom Hankey said. “Last time we faced them, we didn’t compete like we wanted to, but today we did. So I’m very proud of them. We’re heading into the tournament … and we’re ready to go.
“For the first time being in the Suburban League, that’s a little feather in our cap. We don’t take that stuff lightly, for sure.”
Wade said the Spartans knew they would need to compete in Round 2 against Mount Greylock.
“We knew we were going to face [Jack] Cangelosi again,” Wade said. “We knew he’s a really good pitcher. He’s going to college for it. We know he throws hard, so we had to be early on the fastball, and he throws good junk. So we just had to adjust to it.
“Our hitters did a pretty good job getting the ball in play and letting our defense do the rest.”
That Spartan defense recorded two double plays and erased two runners on attempted steals to frustrate the Mounties, who had five hits and earned six walks but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
“We had that one inning where we had the bases loaded, and they made the plays,” Mount Greylock coach Rick Paris said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way, and they made key plays in key situations.
“Even in the first inning, we had a bunt and run on, and our guy pulled back on a strike and left our guy dead at second. First and second, no outs and we, for some reason tried to steal third. So there were a couple of mistakes we had, but they made the plays. The double play up the middle, the double play at home – that was huge.”
The double play at home came in the top of the third when the Mounties had their best scoring opportunity in a 0-0 game.
Cangelosi reached on a one-out single, and Tej Patel reached on a bunt. An errant throw allowed the runners to reach second and third ahead of leadoff man Derek Paris, a .500 hitter this spring for the Mounties.
Hankey elected to give a free pass, and his defense rewarded him, when Raifstanger, playing in at short, fielded a ground ball and fired to Cole Bissaillon at the dish for the inning’s second out. Bissaillon relayed down to Peter Free at first to end the inning and strand a pair.
Monument Mountain finally broke through against Cangelosi in the bottom of the fourth.
Jayder Raifstanger and Bissaillon got it started with back-to-back singles.
After a sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a foul popup to Paris behind the plate, Free reached on an infield single to load the bases with one out.
Jack Bissaillon then hit a two-run single to left field for all the runs the Spartans’ pitchers needed.
Monument Mountain tacked on a run in the fifth.
Cam Raifstanger reached on a one out single and raced around the bases on Jayder’s triple to left-center to make it 3-0.
By that time, Jayder Raifstanger already had moved from short to the pitcher’s mound, getting out of a sticky situation in the top of the fifth.
That is when Mount Greylock’s Dylen Harrison led off with a double to chase Wade..
Cangelosi worked a walk off Raifstanger to set up first-and-second. Bissaillon cut the number of runners in half by catching Harrison attempting to go to third on a dropped pitch. And Raifstanger got a called third strike for the second out, which brought Paris back to the plate with a man on first.
“I went out to the mound to talk about having an idea of what we wanted to do,” Hankey said. “And [Raifstanger] executed the pitches. Lot of respect for the Paris kid, for sure. But [Raifstanger] executed what we wanted him to do and did a phenomenal job.”
Raifstanger induced a groundball to the left side that Jack Bissaillon handled and threw to Free to retire the side.
In the top of the sixth, another groundball led to the Spartans’ second double play of the day. In the seventh, Cangelosi (2-for-2 with a walk) reached with two out, but Raifstanger closed the door.
Monument Mountain (7-1 Suburban East) and Mount Greylock (14-4, 6-2) learn Thursday who they will face in the first round of next week’s Western Mass tournaments.