Division 3 baseball: Frontier opens with convincing win

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  • Frontier's Kalen Evans bunts in a run against Putnam in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Kiernan Freeman steals second base against Putnam in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier baserunner Connor Waitkus steals third base ahead of the tag from Putnam's Antonio Velazquez in the bottom of the second inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Corbin Blight hits an RBI single against Putnam in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Matt Hildreth throws against Putnam in the top of the third inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Jacob Bryant slides safely into home to score against Putnam in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Garrett DeForest hits an RBI single against Putnam in the bottom of the second inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Matt Hildreth throws against Putnam in the top of the third inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier baserunner Bryan Baumann, left, beats out the throw to Putnman first baseman Andy Perez in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Connor Waitkus hits an RBI single against Putnam in the bottom of the second inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier catcher Garrett DeForest talks with pitcher Matt Hildreth during their game against Putnam in the top of the third inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Kyle Barnes field's a grounder at second base against Putnam in the top of the fifth inning Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2019 7:07:18 PM
Modified: 6/7/2019 7:07:05 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The way Kalen Evans tells it, the Frontier Regional baseball team has its eyes set on playing well into the month of June.

Thanks to four hits from the senior left fielder, that journey began with an emphatic victory on Friday.

Second-seeded Frontier opened the WMass Division 3 tourney with a convincing win on its home field, as the Red Hawks needed just six innings to power past No. 15 Putnam, 16-1, in first-round action at G.T. Valiton Field.

Defending WMass runner-up Frontier (18-3) advanced to play No. 7 Athol (14-7) in the Div. 3 quarterfinal round, set for Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. back in South Deerfield.

“Whether it’s the 15-seed or the 1-seed Taconic, we don’t take anything for granted,” Evans said. “It’s baseball. Anything can happen. But ever since losing to Taconic (in last year’s title game), we’ve had the exact same goal and that is to get back to UMass and fight for another chance to win it all. That’s what we’re playing for.”

While Frontier was a decisive favorite on paper entering Friday’s game against Putnam (8-12), Red Hawks skipper Chris Williams was still impressed with his team’s ability to take care of business.

“Going into the game we were focused, motivated and excited,” Williams said. “It’s graduation day, it’s beautiful outside... there was a playoff vibe here, for sure. I love this squad, it’s a great group of kids and I love what we’re about here. And I think we’re playing our best baseball right now so I’m ready to see what this team is made of and what we can do moving forward now that we’ve got the first one under our belts.”

Evans led a 15-hit attack with a 4-for-5 performance out of the No. 7 spot in the Frontier lineup. His triple to lead off the bottom of the second inning sparked a five-run inning, as the Hawks stormed out to a 6-0 lead after two frames and didn’t look back.

“Coach said it best, he told us to lay down the pedal from start to finish,” Evans said. “Let’s set the tone and go from there.”

Garrett DeForest, Connor Waitkus, Kiernan Freeman, Corbin Blight and Jacob Bryant all drove in runs during the second-inning onslaught.

Putnam pushed its lone run across in the top of the third inning. George Diaz walked with two outs, stole second and took third on a wild pitch before Andy Perez drove him in with a single to cut the deficit to 6-1.

That was all the visiting Beavers could muster against Frontier starter Matt Hildreth. The senior right-hander struck out seven, walked three and allowed just three hits in five innings of work to snag the victory. Hildreth struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings, and Xavier Santiago closed it out with a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Frontier scored five more runs in the fourth inning, as the team’s first eight batters in the frame reached base en route to an 11-1 advantage that chased Putnam hurler Jovanni Merced from the game.

The contest came to a close in the bottom of the sixth, when Dillon Polan drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Dylan Apanell with the team’s 16th run of the afternoon that evoked the 15-run rule.

Waitkus, DeForest, Blight and Bryant all had two hits in the victory, with Blight driving in three runs. Freeman, Bryant, Evans and DeForest drove in two runs each.

Into the quarterfinal round, Frontier will play Athol for the second time this season. The Hawks picked up a 7-2 victory when the squads met in April. The Red Raiders edged No. 10 Easthampton, 1-0, in their first-round game on Thursday.

“We’re going to be going against top of the line competition the rest of the season so now it’s about buckling down and trying to get back and win a championship,” said Williams. “We know we’ll probably be seeing (Athol left-hander Nick) Bousquet. He’s a scrappy lefty. The kids have a chip on their shoulders with him, he took care of us up at there place a couple years ago and we remember that. We’re looking forward to the challenge and we know they’re going to give us a tough game.”

Frontier 16, Putnam 1 (6)

Putnam          001 000 — 1  3  4

Frontier     150 514 — 16  15  0

WP—Hildreth LP—Merced

Records: Frontier (18-3) Putnam (8-13)




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