By the time Monument Mountain and Hampshire Regional got to the bottom of the fifth inning of their Western Mass. Class B baseball semifinal, it had gone from a one-sided affair to a back and forth battle. The Spartans, which once led 6-0, found themselves clinging to just a three-run lead.
That’s when Monument’s starting shortstop Jayder Raifstanger stepped to the plate with the bases loaded – a prime opportunity to put the game out of reach.
As Raifstanger stepped into the batters box he had one thing on his mind: get a knock.
“I just needed to be situational and get a base hit,” Raifstanger said. “And he gave me the right pitch so I made him pay.”
Raifstanger sure got his hit, as he connected on a fastball from Hampshire pitcher Ed Przybyla and blasted it deep over the centerfield fence – blowing the game wide open and giving the Spartans a 12-5 lead.
That score held, and Monument walked away with the 12-5 win to earn a spot in the Class B title game.
Monument led 6-0 before the Hampshire bats came alive in the fifth.
After Parker surrendered a hit and a walk, Drew Thompson smacked a three-run home run to right center – cutting the lead in half.
“Resilience is the word I use,” Hampshire Regional head coach Mark Baldwin said. “We bounce back [from deficits] pretty well. “
After a hit batsman, Parker was replaced by third baseman Jack Bissaillon. Bissaillon, after walking three, surrendered two more runs, one of which was charged to Parker.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth, a once six-run Monument lead was down to one.
Although that ended up being all the Raiders could muster, Baldwin was impressed with his team’s discipline at the plate.
“[They’re} pretty smart hitters,” he said. “And you know we practice taking pitches when the counts are in your favor, as well as spoiling bad ones when they are in bad counts. And I think we did that today.”
Class D semis
Ware 15, Hopkins Academy 11 (9) — The Golden Hawks’ quiver emptied first in the Western Massachusetts Class D semifinal in Hadley.
No. 3 Ware scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning, and for the only time all game, No. 3 Hopkins Academy didn’t respond.
The Golden Hawks went down six times and answered the first five.
“It was as crazy as it sounds,” Hopkins Academy coach Dan Vreeland said.
After a scoreless first three innings, Ware pushed across two in the top of the fourth. Hopkins Academy matched both runs.
A two-run homer from Ware’s John Mumpher restored the lead, which grew to 5-2.
Hopkins knocked in three straight singles to pull one back, then Liam Flynn launched a three-run homer to take Hopkins’ first lead 6-5.
Down 8-6 after the top of the sixth, Golden Hawks catcher Patrick Fitzgibbons hit a three-run shot to restore Hopkins’ lead 9-8.
Ware tied the game at nine in the seventh then scored two runs to take an 11-9 lead in the eighth.
Fitzgibbons blasted a two-run home run to send it to the ninth 11-11. He had six RBIs, three hits and scored three runs.
Ware strung a few hits together then Dylan Sutkaitis capped a four-run ninth with a three-run homer.
Hopkins Academy will await next week’s state tournament brackets, while Ware will face No. 1 Pioneer in the final next week. The Golden Hawks are the No. 7 team in Division 5.
Pioneer 3, Granby 0 – The No. 5 Rams couldn’t overcome 16 strikeouts by Panthers starter Hugh Cyhowski in the Class D semifinals.
Nick Misiaszek notched Granby’s lone hit with a double in the fourth inning. Jonathan Santiago, Colin Murdock, Joshua Chateneauef and Shane Gaj each walked once.
The Panthers scored one run in the third and two in the fourth, which proved enough to keep them unbeaten.
Pioneer committed three errors, but the Rams didn’t punish any of them. They left six on base.
“We couldn’t get a big hit at any time,” Granby coach Jim Woods said.
Granby pitcher Patrick French only struck out two but kept Pioneer off balance all night and allowed just four hits with one walk.
Granby will have to sweat out the math for its state tournament fate. The top 32 teams automatically qualify, and the Rams were ranked 34th before the semifinals. With a 9-11 record, it depends on results around the state.
Pittsfield 8, Granby 2 – Riley Goodhind scored both goals for the No. 3 seed Rams on the road in the Western Massachusetts Class C semifinals.
Nate Loughman kept Granby in the game with 25 saves. The Rams only trailed 2-1 after the first and 4-1 after the second and third quarters.
Granby will await its state tournament seeding after a 9-7 season. The Rams are ranked 48th in Division 4 but qualified with a record above .500.
Amherst 4, Pioneer Christian 1 – Even rain extending the match another day couldn’t cool down the second-seeded Hurricanes in the Western Massachusetts Class B semifinals. Amherst will play for its third consecutive sectional title against Northampton at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Smith College.
Amherst’s Miles Jeffries bested Brad Hill 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.
Woojin Kwon picked up a 6-4, 6-3 No. 2 singles victory over Brandon Aikamn for the Hurricanes.
At No. 3 singles, Elias Katsaros bested Sam Shively 6-2, 6-3.
Amherst’s No. 1 doubles team of Brock Waldman and Talvin Dhingra defeated Gabe Malloy and Alejandro Rodriguez 6-3, 6-2.