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Division 3 baseball: Frontier crushes St. Joseph’s to reach championship game

NORTH ADAMS — The Frontier Regional baseball team put on an offensive show over the first four innings Wednesday afternoon to secure a shot at a title for the second consecutive season.

The Red Hawks beat St. Joseph’s 12-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinals at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

The third-seeded Red Hawks (17-6) advance to Saturday’s 1:15 p.m. championship game against No. 5 Smith Academy (20-3) at UMass.

Frontier reached the finals last season but was stymied by Mount Everett. Frontier outfielder Matt Byrne was on last year’s team and, after going 2-for-4 with three runs scored in Wednesday’s win over St. Joe’s, said that getting another chance at a title is great.

“Last year’s final, we didn’t do so well,” Byrne said. “Our pitching was great, but we couldn’t follow through with the bats. But this year we are going to go right through it.”

Frontier registered 12 hits over the first four innings and was helped by four Crusader errors to score 11 runs and take a commanding lead. That helped starting pitcher Ben Ruddock, who simply pitched to contact and let his defense do its job. Ruddock struck out only four, but allowed just four hits and five walks in six-plus innings to earn the win.

“If Ben was the type of selfish player that was worried about strikeouts, then I’m sure he could have had a few more, but he was pitching with a big lead and pitching to contact, and that’s exactly what we encourage our pitchers to do with that type of lead, and he executed perfectly,” first-year Frontier coach Chuck Holt said. “And this was one of our better defensive games today.”

Brandon Bryant, the No. 9 hitter, finished 1-for-1 with two sacrifice flies, a walk and three RBI. Eddie Tsai, the No. 8 hitter, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Sam Tillona went 3-for-3 with one RBI. The bottom five hitters in the Frontier lineup finished a combined 10-for-15.

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WESTFIELD — The Smith Academy baseball team faced a double dose of adversity in the bottom of the sixth in its Western Massachusetts Division 3 semifinal against top-seeded Monson Wednesday afternoon. First, the Falcons lost their three-run lead, then lost their starting catcher to ejection following a bench-clearing brawl. Three outs from elimination, the Falcons shook off any frustration to … 0

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