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Belchertown tops South Hadley for Koufax B state championship

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, scores his team's 11th run to end the game, ahead of South Hadley catcher David Adams, during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. A.J. Oliveira's hit allowed him to score.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, scores his team's 11th run to end the game, ahead of South Hadley catcher David Adams, during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. A.J. Oliveira's hit allowed him to score.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Baily Pereira, of South Hadley, dives back to second on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. Pereira was safe.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Baily Pereira, of South Hadley, dives back to second on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. Pereira was safe.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>A.J. Oliveira, top, of Belchertown, catches as Nate McClure, of South Hadley, makes it safely back to first on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    A.J. Oliveira, top, of Belchertown, catches as Nate McClure, of South Hadley, makes it safely back to first on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, scores his team's 11th run to end the game, ahead of South Hadley catcher David Adams, during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. A.J. Oliveira's hit allowed him to score.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Tanner Clark, right, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Baily Pereira, of South Hadley, dives back to second on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer. Pereira was safe.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>A.J. Oliveira, top, of Belchertown, catches as Nate McClure, of South Hadley, makes it safely back to first on a pick attempt during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The Belchertown team raises their trophy after defeating South Hadley in the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Mitch Medina, of Belchertown, pitches to South Hadley during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Sean Doyle, left, of South Hadley, prepares to catch at first, sending Cyrus Raines, of Belchertown, back to the dugout during the Sandy Koufax Division B state final Monday in Palmer.<br/>

PALMER — The Belchertown River Rats captured the Sandy Koufax WMABC B Division state championship on Monday night, defeating the South Hadley Tigers in a mercy rule-shortened 11-3 victory at Legion Field.

Nolan Vogal spearheaded Belchertown’s offense, going 2 for 3, scoring four runs and stealing four bases.

“He’s a nuisance (on the bases), isn’t he?,” Belchertown coach Ed Medina said. “He’s a sparkplug. He gets on base, gets into pitchers’ heads, and he can go from first to third on three pitches. He’s awesome at reading the pitcher, and he takes off. Sometimes we give him the steal sign, but sometimes we don’t and he’ll make it happen.”

In the first inning, after reaching first on an error, Vogal scored the game’s first run by advancing to second on a wild pitch, moving to third on a groundout by Tanner Clark, and scampering home on another wild pitch.

The River Rats continued to run aggressively on the bases, plating two runs in the second inning on wild pitches and stealing a total of nine bases in the contest.

“I think there were a lot of good teams in this championship tournament, but we were deeper top-to-bottom,” said Belchertown coach Joe Bachand. “Every kid contributed this weekend, it didn’t matter if it was one at-bat or one inning pitched or even one batter. We were strong from top-to-bottom, and that was the difference throughout the whole tournament.”

Mitch Medina started the game for Belchertown, going five innings and allowing four hits while walking three and striking out two. The righty also contributed at the plate with a run scored and two singles, driving in a pair of runs on a two-out hit to right-center in the third.

“I was moving the ball around the zone, which I’m usually able to do well,” Mitch Medina said. “I was able to hit my spots and my teammates were able to get the outs in the field for me.”

While Belchertown jumped out to a 9-0 lead through four innings, South Hadley put up a fight in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs to stave off the mercy rule for another inning.

Braden Fogarty went 2 for 2 with a walk for the Tigers, while David Adams and Jarrett Sudyka each logged a hit and scored a run apiece.

“I think we did a good job of recollecting ourselves after (the fifth inning),” Mitch Medina said.

“We just try to pick each other up,” Vogal said. “When one guy makes an error, another guy needs to step up at the plate for him.”

AJ Oliveira collected three hits in the win, including the game-ending single in the final inning to score Clark from second and induce the eight-run mercy rule.

Clark added two hits and two runs scored in the game.

The River Rats draw players from Belchertown and Three Rivers in Palmer to form one team. After a slow 1-2 start to the season, they went on an 18-2 run which included a 12-game win streak.

“After that start, we just kept doing what we were doing and it clicked,” Ed Medina said. “Going to practice and hitting, fielding, throwing, getting everyone to jell together. We tried to keep it simple for the guys.”

Belchertown played strongly in this past weekend’s tournament to reach the championship, winning their first two games, including a 4-3 win over South Hadley before receiving a bye to the finals.

“We weren’t overly regimented in instruction, but we were somewhat structured,” Ed Medina said. “We would get our ground balls, take our batting practice, have pitchers throw on the sides, and we allowed the kids to have fun. We gave them some leeway to go out and be themselves by joking around and it worked.”

Sandy Koufax

WMABC B Division

State championship

Belchertown 11, South Hadley 3

South Hadley 000 030—3 4 3

Belchertown 132 302—11 11 1

WP - Medina; LP - Adams

Records: South Hadley (25-3); Belchertown (19-4)

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