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Division 2 baseball: Mistakes cost Hampshire Regional is first-round loss to Drury

NORTH ADAMS — Inexperience loomed large for the Hampshire Regional baseball team on Thursday.

The Raiders committed four errors and two balks in the first four innings as Drury built an insurmountable lead en route to a 9-4 win in a Western Massachusetts Division 2 first-round game.

“Yeah, errors early hurt us and we have quite a few seniors out there, but also have a lot of young kids out there,” Hampshire coach Bob Dombkowski said. “I think that the errors really freaked them out, and I don’t think they ever really came back into the game afterwards. It’s pretty tough.”

The win puts the Blue Devils in the quarterfinals against No. 2 Mount Greylock on Saturday afternoon.

The Blue Devils wasted no time putting pressure on Hampshire’s young left side of the infield. Kareen Beckett led off with a single and Jake Tatro reached on an error by sophomore Nick Batchelder. Ryan Ouimet brought Beckett in with a single up the middle.

Nolan Bird kept the pressure on with a bunt down the third-base line. No one covered first, but freshman Kyle Marek’s throw went there anyway. Tatro and Ouimet came around to score and Bird ended up on third. Kodey Bryce gave Drury a 4-0 edge with a sacrifice fly two batters later.

Tyler Briggs, who had already shown his command on the mound facing just four Hampshire batters in the first, couldn’t ask for a better start from his offense.

“Four runs was great,” he said. “I give it to these guys, these guys do it all. So I’m happy we have these guys here and getting on in the tournament.”

After running into some trouble in the second and yielding a run, he settled in and tossed three consecutive scoreless innings.

Hampshire starter Dan Baldwin wasn’t so fortunate. He lasted just two innings before giving way to seventh-grader Matt York. The young right-hander pitched the next three-plus innings, giving up five runs on five hits, five walks and a hit batter.

Dombkowski left his young hurler in there so he could soak up as much of the experience as possible.

“That’s what I told the young pitcher when I went to see him. I said, ‘Forget about the score. This is an experience for you. There’s no way that you can get this kind of experience and knowledge but to pitch through this,’” Dombkowski said. “It’s about him and making the pitches. He’ll be a better pitcher for it.”

His rough inning came in the fourth when Drury struck for four runs.

Tatro and Ouimet earned back-to-back walks to lead off the bottom of the fourth and Bird hit a single to load the bases. A balk brought Tatro in before Bryce turned on an inside pitch and drove it down the right-field line for a two-run triple. He later scored on another balk.

“I was looking for an outside pitch to put it in the gap, but I always like inside pitches anyway,” Bryce said. “I’ll go with whatever they pitch to me, as long as it’s in my zone.”

The big inning pushed the Blue Devils out to a comfortable seven-run lead after letting the Raiders hang around for the first half.

Bryce took over for Briggs with two on and two out in the sixth and Hampshire had already plated two. He needed just two pitches to end the threat.

“I had to shut the game down because Tyler did a phenomenal job today,” Bryce said. “I was just trying to put it down the middle so that they could hit the ball to our players, make the outs.”

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