Ryan Schneider, Amherst blank Hatfield in Sandy Koufax playoff opener

For the Gazette
Published: 7/16/2019 10:31:48 PM

AMHERST — Ryan Schneider’s one-hit, five-strikeout performance powered Amherst past Hatfield, 10-0, in a mercy-rule shortened five innings, Tuesday night at Amherst Regional.

Amherst is 1-0 in the double elimination Pioneer Valley Youth Baseball League Sandy Koufax Tournament. Hatfield is 0-1.

“Ryan Schneider did a great job pitching,” Amherst coach Tom Beckwith said. “That set the tone for the whole game.”

Aside from Leo Forrest and Sam Dobson reaching base on errors in the first two innings for Hatfield, Schneider retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced.

“It felt very nice,” Schneider said. “We faced these guys before so I kinda knew who we were gonna face, so kinda confident going in.”

Schneider got things going early at the plate, delivering an RBI single in the first inning to score Pat Fitzgibbons (three hits, two RBIs) and make it 2-0. Fitzgibbons tripled to drive in Charlie May (two hits) for the first run.

Schneider “was in charge the whole game,” Beckwith said. “He owned it and hit the ball too.”

After advancing to second base on a fielder’s choice, Schneider stole third on a passed ball and eventually scored the same way to make it 3-0.

Amherst added two runs in the second inning when Mickey Maroulas (one hit) led off with a single to center field and stole second base to get into scoring position.

After an error at second base by Hatfield, Saeed Rodriguez reached first safely and Maroulas advanced to third. Maroulas eventually scored on a groundout to first by May to make it 4-0.

One batter later, Fitzgibbons singled and drove in Rodriguez to make it 5-0.

Hatfield coach John Smiarowski acknowledged his team’s struggles both offensively and defensively after falling behind early.

Will Dobson’s fourth-inning double was Hatfield’s only hit.

“We just didn’t come to play,” Smiarowski said. “We got down by three in the first inning and we just didn’t put up a fight.”

After a third-inning single to center by Marshall Ingram (two hits, walk), Smiarowski brought in Will Dobson to relieve starter Griffin Smiarowski.

Two more runs in both the third and fourth innings made it 9-0 for Amherst.

Cody West got the fifth started by drawing a walk and stealing second base. Maroulas followed and reached first on an infield single, which advanced West to third.

With runners on first and third, Rodriguez popped out to shortstop and on an attempt to throw out Maroulas, who was trying to tag-up at first, the ball was overthrown and West scored the game-winning run from third.

“You have to run the bases the right way,” West said. “The throw wasn’t the best and if the first baseman makes the play, I don’t score.”

Hatfield will face elimination when it plays Northampton at 5:30 p.m. at Florence Field on Wednesday. Northampton beat Mohawk, 16-1, in its opener.

John Smiarowski noted his team’s ability to bounce back after bad performances.

“We have during the season,” Smiarowski said. “We play a bad game, then we’ll have a great one. We gotta recover, we need more energy.”

Amherst will look to keep the momentum going into the next round when it visits Dalton at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Dalton beat Westfield, 3-2.

“It will definitely give us some confidence,” Beckwith said. “We play teams that we already beat before, and if we put the same effort out there we should be OK.”

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