Deerfield Mantle stays alive, knocks out Easthampton

Saturday, September 13, 2014
DEERFIELD — Led by an offensive outbreak in which eight of their nine starters recorded a hit, Deerfield defeated Easthampton 10-2 in a Mickey Mantle Tournament elimination game Sunday afternoon.

Seth Gewanter spearheaded the Deerfield offense, going 3 for 4 with a double and four runs scored, while Kevin Banas went 2 for 3 with a double, two runs batted in and one scored.

Banas also starred on the mound for Deerfield, allowing four hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out five over six innings.

“I think my best stuff was mostly the fastball and the slider, and then I worked in more off-speed stuff later in the game,” Banas said. “But I think I could have been a little bit more on.”

Steve Moussette and Hunter Brooks each singled and scored for Easthampton (10-14), which was eliminated. Jamie Ryan, Kyle Marek, and Ryan York also recorded a hit in the loss.

“I thought (Kevin) looked good,” said Gewanter, Banas’ battery mate. “His slider was real good at the beginning of the game and he was hitting spots well with his fastball. He just got a lot of swings and misses.”

Even though Banas didn’t allow a hit until the top of the third, Easthampton was able to push across a run in the first inning by capitalizing on a couple Deerfield miscues.

With two outs, Easthampton’s Hunter Brooks reached on an error to third. After Banas walked Tyler Vishaway and Jamie Ryan reached first on a dropped third strike, a wild pitch allowed Brooks to score.

However, Deerfield answered immediately in their half of the inning. Trevor Mankowsky led off the frame with a triple, while Derek Zewinski, Gewanter, and Banas all followed with singles to put Deerfield ahead 3-1.

“You just need to forget about (that top half) and work on the next inning,” Banas said. “I had to find the fastball and hit it, and try to stay away from the breaking stuff when I could because that’s when you jam it into the ground or fly out.”

Easthampton came within a run after an RBI double from Brooks in the third, but Deerfield responded in their half with a run of their own. After a scoreless top of the fourth, a lightning strike spotted by the field umpire delayed the game for half an hour.

“I don’t think (the delay) affected us,” said Easthampton coach John Fitzpatrick. “We didn’t think we were even going to play today, waking up and looking in the sky. Some of us got halfway here and turned around, then came back, so it was a bit of an unusual start time anyway. The whole thing had a bit of a different aura about it.”

The game stayed close until the fifth, when Deerfield sent nine batters to the plate on their way to a five-run inning.

Gewanter led off the inning with a double, and after a hit-by-pitch and a walk, Quinn Doyle singled to score Gewanter. Doyle’s hit opened the floodgates, as consecutive wild pitches allowed two more runs to score before Doyle was later driven home on a single from Noah Barnes, who later scored on a hit from Mankowsky.

“I think as a team we were just aggressive at the plate today,” Gewanter said. “We were looking for first-pitch strikes and swinging the bats well.”

Easthampton put nine runners in scoring position while Banas was pitching, but the righty shut down multiple Easthampton rallies, including one in the fifth with two outs and the tying run on second.

“I just go one batter at a time and try to get the force outs when they’re there to avoid the big inning,” Banas said.

Gewanter added, “We got some good key groundballs with baserunners on, which really helped us out. Kevin went out there and he just shut them down, and our bats really came alive.”

The loss marks the end of the season for Easthampton, which entered the league’s eight-team, double-elimination tournament as the No. 6 seed.

“I think for the last 10 games or so, these kids have come together great,” Fitzpatrick said. “At the beginning they were feeling it out a little, but by the end they were hugging it out. Nobody expected us to be where we were, so this is a little victory for us.”

Deerfield, the tournament’s top seed, will go on to play Frontier Monday in another elimination game at 5:30 p.m. in Deerfield.

Deerfield, Frontier, and South Hadley all have one loss in the tournament. However, a coin flip on Sunday determined that South Hadley will receive a bye and automatically play in Wednesday’s championship game against the winner of Monday’s matchup.

“I think we’re getting hot at the right time,” said Gewanter. “We kind of started off the tournament scuffling a little bit, but we’re definitely heating up now.”