Top-seeded Smith Vocational baseball gets past Lenox, punches Class C title-game ticket (PHOTOS)

By GEORGE MILLER

For the Gazette

Published: 05-25-2023 9:05 PM

NORTHAMPTON – An early deficit and a couple of times through the batting order proved just what Smith Vocational needed Thursday to punch its ticket to the Western Mass. Class C baseball final.

The top-seeded Vikings fell behind Lenox 2-0 after only half an inning, then rallied with the next four runs. Lenox cut the lead to 4-3 before Smith Voc sprinted away with 10 runs in its final three at-bats to post a 14-4, six-inning victory at Arcanum Field.

“Going into today, everybody was told the energy had to be way up, and we've gotta start having fun again,” said Vikings coach Luis Bonilla. “We did a great job today, and I'm super proud.”

Smith Voc improved to 19-1 ahead of its Class C championship appearance against third-seeded Frontier (14-6), set for Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield.

Marshall Ingram got the win for the hosts with a complete-game six-hitter and set the table nicely at the top of the Vikings' lineup with a 4-for-5 day, including a triple, double, two singles and four runs scored. Caden Payne added three hits and three RBIs, while Caelan Finnie and Pat Millin each supplied two hits and three RBIs to a Smith attack that totaled 18 hits.

Lenox, the No. 5 seed in Class C, fell to 12-8 but still has the upcoming Division 5 state tournament to prep for. The Millionaires struck right away against Ingram when Mike Butler led off with a single inside the bag at third, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and came in on Brendan Armstrong's infield hit. Armstrong then stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and was wild-pitched home for an instant 2-0 Lenox lead.

“Scoring two runs in the first inning, that's something we don't do very much," said Millionaires coach Kevin Downer. “But we did not look good today, and it was just an ugly game. They're a good hitting team over there, they showed up, and my hat's off to them. We've gotta put this one behind us and move forward, that's all you can do.”

Smith got a run back against Butler in the home first. Rosco Palmer singled with one out, swiped second and Payne singled to left to pull the Vikings within 2-1.

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By the time the top of Smith's order came up again in the third, the Vikings reached Butler for five hits and three runs good for a 4-2 lead. Ingram tripled to deep left-center, Finnie drove him in with a base hit, James Lavallee doubled to left and Pat Millin plated a pair with a single to left.

Max Shepardson began the Lenox fourth with a double to center, went to third on a fielder's choice and scored when Rob Bazinet blooped a base hit to short right-center. Bazinet was then thrown out trying to steal second before Sam Joyce walked, but Ingram worked his way out by catching David Kirchner on a called third strike.

The home fourth marked the biggest uprising of the day as the Vikings piled on five more runs to make it a 9-3 game. Carter Blanchette led off with an infield hit, was wild-pitched over to both second and third, and came in on Ingram's double to right-center. That brought Butler's day on the mound to an end as Cliff Flynn relieved for Lenox. Palmer walked, stole second, and scored along with Ingram on Finnie's two-run single, with a throwing error advancing Finnie to second. Payne added an RBI single and Millin's groundout later scored Payne.

The Vikings were right back at it in the fifth against Flynn and reliever Jason Sibley. Ingram and Payne had the RBI base hits to push the lead to 11-3.

Lenox's lone response came in the sixth on Flynn's sacrifice fly that scored Armstrong. Smith Voc then finished things off in the home sixth, getting an RBI pop fly from Kaleb Jorritsma, and plating the last two runs of the game on a throwing error and a wild pitch.

“I don't know if it's a good thing to fall behind, but I knew we could hit,” said Bonilla. “The way we've been playing lately, the hitting wasn't my concern. All year long, we've been scoring tons of runs. It was the fielding, we've been starting to make some errors and give up some runs, but they did a great job today.”

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