Jake Brittain no-hits Agawam as Northampton Post 28 wins playoff opener

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  • Devontay Edmonds, of Northampton Post 28, runs to first against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jackson Heath, of Northampton Post 28, bats to a walk against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nick Heafey, right, of Northampton Post 28, dives back to first as Andrew Sullivan, of Agawam Post 158, catches a throw from his pitcher, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. Heafey was tagged out. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andy Grygorcewicz, of Northampton Post 28, hits a two-run single against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nate Kelley, of Northampton Post 28, hits a RBI single against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nate Kelley, center, of Northampton Post 28, is greeted at home by Wilson Heath, left, and Devontay Edmonds after scoring on a single by Andy Grygorcewicz during an American Legion playoff game against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andy Grygorcewicz, of Northampton Post 28, dives back to first on a pick attempt by Agawam Post 158, Wednesday at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. He was safe. Post 28 won 5-0. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos, video. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andy Grygorcewicz, left, of Northampton Post 28, slides into home on a hit by Nick Heafey, but he was tagged out by Agawam catcher Hunter Levesque on his way there, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nate Kelley, of Northampton Post 28, hits a single against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dillon Diemand, front, of Northampton Post 28, slides toward second base before being tagged out by Griffen Levesque, of Agawam, on a steal, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andy Grygorcewicz, left, of Northampton Post 28, heads back to first as Agawam pitcher Sam O'Connell throws to Andrew Sullivan on a pick attempt, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. Grygorcewicz was safe. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Noah Brink, of Northampton Post 28, catches a hit by Connor Twohig, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Brittain, of Northampton Post 28, pitches against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Brittain, of Northampton Post 28, pitches against Agawam Post 158, Wednesday at Spec Pond in Wilbraham. Brittain threw a no-hitter in Post 28’s 5-0 victory. Visit gazettenet.com for video and photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2019 10:38:54 PM

WILBRAHAM — Before beginning his postgame huddle, Northampton Post 28 coach Chuck Holt asked manager Mike Noonan, “How many hits did Jake allow?”

“Zero,” Noonan responded, looking up from his scoresheet.

Northampton’s Jake Brittain threw a no-hitter against Agawam Post 185 in Wednesday’s Western Massachusetts American Legion playoff opener without anyone realizing it.

“I knew that I didn’t give up a lot of base runners, but I had no idea,” Brittain said.

He allowed just five base runners in intermittent light rain: two walks, a hit batsman, a fielder’s choice and an error. Brittain struck out one and largely relied on his defense. It took only 73 pitches.

“Tons of first-pitch strikes,” Holt said. “All day long he was pounding the strike zone, letting his defense do the work. That’s the recipe for success.”

Post 28’s bats added the proper ingredients, and Northampton, the fourth seed, won 5-0 at Spec Pond field. Northampton moved into the winners bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will await the winner of No. 1 Pittsfield vs. No. 8 Monson at 7:45 p.m. Friday. Those teams were supposed to play after Northampton and No. 5 Agawam on Wednesday, but the game was postponed to Thursday because of rain. Post 185 will face the loser between Pittsfield and Monson in an elimination game Friday.

“Our pitching is all lined up just right,” Holt said. “One of our strengths is we have a lot of depth. I’m hoping in the playoffs, especially with our pitching depth, that that will become more of an advantage if we can stay alive.”

It was the first Post 28 no-hitter since 2016 when Colby Lander no-hit Greenfield in an elimination game.

Brittain walked Griffen Levesque on four pitches to open the game then sat down 14 batters in a row before Harrison Hooben smoked a grounder toward third base in the top of the fourth inning. It ricocheted off Dillon Diemand’s glove, and Hooben reached first. Brittain induced a flyout to center field that Nate Kelley ran down.

“Every time I go out I focus on trying to get ground balls, throw strikes and keep it low,” Brittain said. “I know I’m not going to blow it by them, but I know my defense is going to make the plays.”

Northampton’s offense didn’t let him down. Noah Brink led off the bottom of the third with a single, then Wilson Heath attempted a bunt. Agawam misplayed the throw to first, and Northampton had two runners on base. Kelley drove in a run with a single to make it 1-0. Jackson Heath walked to load the bases, bringing up Andy Grygorcewicz. He drilled a two-run single to expand Post 28’s lead.

“I was looking curveball. The at-bat before he threw a few curveballs and I popped out to first,” Grygorcewicz said. “I was looking nothing but curveballs.”

After a fly out that moved Heath to third, Agawam tried to catch Grygorcewicz stealing at second. Heath took off for home and scored. A fly out ended the inning with a 4-0 Northampton lead.

“After the big inning, I settled in and was a lot more comfortable,” Brittain said. “It’s a lot easier to pitch with a lead.”

Northampton (12-5) played aggressively on the basepaths the entire game. Post 28 had eight hits and one walk, but was picked off at first once and caught stealing once in the second inning. It grounded into a double play in the fourth. Holt loved the aggressiveness.

“We push the envelope,” he said. “We get thrown out sometimes, but live by the sword, die by the sword.”

Patrick Serio kept the no-hitter alive with a sliding catch in left field with two outs in the sixth.

“Off the bat, it looked like a routine play, but as it got close to me I realized that it was tailing away,” Serio said. “I feel like I had it the whole way.”

Brink tacked on an insurance run for Post 28 in the sixth inning with an RBI single.

In the seventh, Brittain hit Hooben to send him to first. Levesque popped out to center for the first out. Matt Hotaing then squared to bunt, but he popped it up. Brittain ran under it for the second out, and with Hooben off first, Brittain snapped a throw to Grygorcewicz at first to double him up and end the game.

“I was ready to get out,” Brittain said. “It was big.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

Northampton Post 28 5,
Agawam Post 185 0

Agawam Post 185          000 000 0 — 0 0 2

Northampton Post 28    004 001 x — 5 8 1

WP—Brittain LP—O’Connell

Records: Northampton Post 28 (12-5) Agawam Post 185 (10-8)




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