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Easthampton baseball eliminates Hopkins Academy from postseason contention

The Golden Hawks scored twice in the seventh inning and had the trying run on second base, but couldn’t push it across and fell 6-5.

Down 6-1 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Hopkins junior Andrew Omer ripped a line drive to deep center. The hit plated two runs and would have scored a third, but center fielder Hunter Leveille hit Shy Torres, the cutoff man, who gunned Omer down at third base before the final runner crossed the plate cutting Easthampton’s lead to 6-3.

In the seventh, with runners on first and second and one out, Hopkins pitcher Tim Knightly hit his second double of the day to deep right-center field, driving in two runs for the Golden Hawks (8-10, 7-8 Hampshire) to make it 6-5.

It would be all they got, however, as Eagles reliever Austin Crow struck out the last two batters to earn the save and secure the Easthampton (10-7, 8-7 Hampshire League) win.

“We gave it our best shot today, we just fell a little bit short,” said Hopkins coach Jordan Branson, whose team won five straight heading into the game.“There were three or four things, that if they had broken our way, could have given us the win.”

Easthampton senior starter Chris Starcun allowed three runs (two earned), over six innings pitched. Knightly pitched gave up six runs in six innings for Hopkins.

Knightly “gave the effort, but his stuff wasn’t there,” Branson said. “He’s pitched a few fantastic games, but tonight wasn’t one of them.”

With the Eagles holding a 1-0 lead in the third, Starcun helped his own cause with a two-run home run to right to put Easthampton on top 3-0.

Starcun “is just a workhorse,” Easthampton coach Ed Zuchowski said. “He’s a gamer. He steps up for us each game with his bat, and his pitching performances are always outstanding.”

Evan Delaney and Nick Bernard each contributed two hits for Hopkins.

After the game, Zuchowski praised his team’s defense, but made sure he kept his team, which qualified for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament Tuesday, looking forward.

“Everybody played great defense. Our outfielders did an outstanding job,” he said. “These last few weeks are a time that we have to stay focused and serious. We’ve played well enough so that we dictate how our season will end, and we don’t want to leave anything to chance come tournament time.”

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