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Easthampton ousted from Mickey Mantle tournament

EASTHAMPTON — After finishing last in the regular season, Easthampton was competitive in the Mickey Mantle Tournament before bowing out with a 7-2 loss to Mohawk, Friday at Booster Field.

Easthampton finished the regular season with a 4-14 record to earn the sixth-seed. It hung with top-seeded Amherst in the first round Wednesday before losing 1-0. In a must-win scenario for both teams, Easthampton then beat No. 5 South Hadley 12-3 Thursday to advance in the tournament.

“Finally at the end of the year everything started to happen for us. Although we lost against Amherst in the beginning of the playoffs, it was almost like we were a different team. They were aggressive and made plays,” Easthampton coach Dan LaBonte said. “Against South Hadley (Thursday), we took hard swings at the ball while playing smart and won. We did a little of that (Friday against Mohawk), but we have not had any breaks all year. But in the playoffs it finally started to work for us.”

Mohawk (11-8) will play No. 2 Northampton (16-4) Saturday at 10 a.m. at South Hadley High School. The winner will immediately advance to the finals. Easthampton finished its season 5-16.

Mohawk scored three runs in the top of the second and one in the top of the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. Easthampton answered with two in the bottom of the fourth inning.

With two outs, Hunter Leveille singled to center for Easthampton. James Ryan followed with a single up the middle and both moved up on a double steal. Dakota Wheeler drove both runners in with a single to center to make the score 4-2.

“All year, we’ve been trying to tell these kids not to take strikes,” LaBonte said. “‘If you see a strike then swing and hopefully you’ll hit the ball.’ In the beginning of the year, we were taking a lot of strikes. We had some issues and were having a hard time. We were trying to tell kids to not take strikes, be aggressive and have fun, then good things will happen.”

Tyler Vishaway struck out six in a complete game while allowing 11 hits and two walks.

Brandon Bennett finished with a single and a double, while Leveille had three hits. Kyle Richard, Ryan and Wheeler each had one.

“This is one of those games where they learn to compete and stay in the game,” LaBonte said. “They have a lot of ability, but they have to trust it. I just told them that they can’t go down. They have to stay in the game because they have enough talent to comeback at any point.”

Mickey Mantle Tournament

Mohawk 7, Easthampton 2

Mohawk 030 101 2—7 11 1

Easthampton 000 200 0—2 8 1

WP - Markham; LP - Vishaway

Records: Mohawk (11-8) Easthampton (5-16)

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