WMass Division 3 baseball: Easthampton’s run ends with semifinal loss to No. 1 Taconic

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

GREENFIELD — No. 12 ran out of steam.

Easthampton’s dramatic run in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament ended with a 15-4 semifinal loss to top-seeded Taconic at Veterans Memorial Field, Wednesday.

The Braves will play No. 2 Frontier Regional at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at UMass’ Lorden Field for the championship.

“It’s amazing. Last year we were 1-16. No one expected anything from us,” Easthampton senior Dawson Wolcott said. “We didn’t expect to get this far.”

The 12th-seeded Eagles mashed their way through No. 5 Mount Greylock and No. 4 Hampshire Regional to reach the final four, but couldn’t find the key hit against the defending Division 1 state champions. Easthampton (13-9) loaded the bases in each of the first three innings, but managed only three runs on ground outs and errors.

“We had big hitters up there in situations,” Easthampton coach Ed Zuchowski said. “We just didn’t get that hit.”

Taconic got that hit. The Braves (18-4) led 5-4 after Easthampton battled back in the fourth inning. The one-run deficit didn’t stay there for long.

After a ground out to open the inning, three singles made it 6-4. Christian Womble walked to load the bases, then Cedric Rose cranked a backbreaking three-run triple to right field to put Taconic up 9-4 and the game out of reach.

“We were in it up to that point, and it just kind of deflated us,” Wolcott said.

The Eagles stayed in it through a disciplined approach at the plate. They drew eight walks in the first three innings.

“We wanted to work the count and get on base any way we could,” Jacob Broadhurst said. “We played really smart in the beginning.”

Nathan Morse led off the second with a single, then Austin Kuenzel and Broadhurst walked to load the bases. After a Lance Parrish strikeout, Zackery Kugler grounded out to bring Morse home and put Easthampton on the board.

The Braves tacked another run on in the bottom of the second for a 5-1 lead.

Wolcott opened the third with a single before moving to second on a Nic Soucy groundout and taking third on a passed ball. Morse and Kuenzel walked to load the bases again.

Broadhurst hit the ball to second base, forcing out Morse at second while Wolcott scored to make it 5-2. Taconic’s throw to first to try and double up Boardhurst went wide, and Kuenzel came around to make it 5-3.

“I just wanted to get anything on it,” Broadhurst said.

Morse pitched a 1-2-3 third inning to keep the Eagles close.

Kugler made it even closer in the fourth with some help from Taconic. He led off with a single then moved to second and third on wild pitches. He scored on an error to bring Easthampton within 5-4.

“I give them credit, they didn’t quit,” Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said. “They kept coming after us.”

The Braves ultimately pulled away, outscoring Easthampton 10-0 over the game’s final three innings.

It was the final game for Easthampton’s five seniors: Parrish, Wolcott, Matt Torrey, Broadhurst and Kuenzel.

“They were still up in spirit. We had a great season,” Zuchowski said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The Eagles of the future might be able to. Easthampton featured 11 underclassmen, including six eighth-graders, many of whom played at some point against Taconic.

“I thought they were very poised. Getting this one under our belt looking forward to future years, I think this experience was great,” Zuchowski said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Taconic 15, Easthampton 4

Easthampton        012 100 0 — 4 3 5

Taconic                  410 730 x — 15 13 2

WP—Lazits LP—Kuenzel

Records: Taconic (18-4) Easthampton (13-9)