Bay State Games: West baseball walks off Central to solidify 2nd in standings heading to final day
|Published: 07-06-2023 7:28 PM
BOSTON – Boom. Boom. Boom.
Those weren’t belated fireworks at Monan Field at BC High. The West team scored all of its runs with three home run blasts to defeat the Central squad 6-5 on Thursday to close out Day 2 of Bay State Games baseball play.
Pittsfield rising junior Jack Abel launched the decisive one from practically out of nowhere with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. After trailing all game, Chicopee Comp’s Bryce Trumbull and Greenfield’s Johnny Marchefka led off the final frame with consecutive singles.
Then Ware’s Nolan Kaczuwka laced a lineout directly to the Central third baseman, who stepped on third for the double play. He dropped down a picturesque bunt mere pitches earlier that would have stopped dead on infield grass but rolled foul on the turf.
That brought up Abel for just his second at-bat of the game. He battled to a full count then turned on the ball, sending it without a doubt over the right center field fence.
“I was just looking for a line drive there. Fastball sitting,” Abel said. “Dead red.”
His red-clad teammates spilled out of the dugout to meet him at home plate. Marchefka crossed first to tie the game at 5 to a high five, then the rest of the West mobbed Abel after he touched home to score the winning run.
“It was awesome. A lot of us just met this weekend during tryouts, and for us to be this close already is great,” Abel said.
While Abel delivered the knockout blow, Hampshire Regional rising senior Drew Thompson hit the previous two body blows. The sturdy lefty fouled a pitch off long down the right field line early in his at bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, which told him everything he needed.
Frontier Regional’s Grayson Loos waited on first base after a leadoff single. Thompson crushed the next pitch to deep center in the furthest part of the park. The ball caromed off a pole and shot several dozen feet to the left, allowing Loos to motor home comfortably.
Thompson churned his legs for a return trip, too, and slid across the turf to cut the deficit to 3-2.
“When I fouled it, I knew I could hit it out,” Thompson said.
He also pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless relief after coming on with two outs in the third. Thompson struck out one and walked three with a hit batter but stabilized the West after three early runs.
Central tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth on sacrifice flies after Thompson made way for Comp’s Daniel Sciarretta.
That cushion didn’t last long. Mikey Thompson, Drew’s twin brother, reached on an error to open the sixth. Then Drew smashed another long bomb. He took his time rounding the bases after it cleared the right center field fence.
The victory put the West in a strong position heading into Friday’s final day of play. They sit second in the standings with a 3-1 mark behind Coastal (3-0-1), which defeated them 8-4 on Wednesday. Coastal faces Metro (0-3-1) at 11:30 a.m. Friday back at Monan Field, while West closes the tournament against Southeast at 2 p.m.
With a win, the West can secure no worse than a silver medal. They’d take the gold if Coastal loses. The baseball medals will be handed out based on the final standings rather than after bracket play like most Bay State Games sports.
The West also defeated Northeast 3-2 on Wednesday and Metro 8-0 on Thursday. They’ve allowed the fewest runs in the tournament (15) and have the second-best run differential (plus-6), the tiebreakers if teams finish with the same records.Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.