NORTH ADAMS >> There wasn't much to smile about for the MCLA baseball team Thursday afternoon. But even after a 16-4 defeat to Southern Vermont College, Trailblazer Robert Jutras was able to generate a grin.
After all, the senior got another chance to play on Joe Wolfe Field, where he spent four years as a member of the Drury High School baseball team.
"You know, I think that when I got to MCLA, there was a chance," said Jutras. "It's nice coming back and playing on Joe Wolfe."
That might have been the only good thing that came out of the Trailblazers defeat at the hands of Southern Vermont. The visiting Mountaineers sent nine batters to the plate in both the first and second innings, scoring nine runs in those two innings. From that point, it was a more competitive game, but the damage had been done.
And it was not how first-year coach Mike Gladu wanted to see the home opener go.
"I think the first two innings kind of told the whole story. We didn't work ahead of hitters. We fell behind. We made some mistakes," he said. "Before you knew it, we had to do a lot of catching up.
"It's hard to do that when you don't have a high-powered offense."
MCLA falls to 3-9, while Southern Vermont is now 7-11.
Southern Vermont pounded out 15 hits against six different MCLA pitchers, and 13 of the 16 runs scored were earned.
Brendan Kelly got the start and took the loss. The freshman right-hander gave up five earned runs on three hits and two walks in one inning. Rob Spatafore's two-run single was the key hit in the two-run first.
Two of the six MCLA pitchers — Frank Rickus and Nate Alibozek — threw scoreless innings in relief.
R.J. Henle, the second of three Southern Vermont pitchers, got the win. He threw five innings of relief, giving up two runs on six hits.
"In non-conference games, you have to show up with good energy and we did that," said Southern Vermont coach Dave Gage. "When Zach [Stacey] gets on to lead it off and the middle of the order guys move him around, I thought we had a good approach [at the plate] early in the game."
Gage may coach in Bennington, but he is known to Pittsfield-area baseball cognoscenti as manager Jamie Keefe's bench coach in the Pittsfield Suns' inaugural season.
Southern Vermont's Stacey worked a four-pitch walk to open the first inning, and while he was forced at second, it led to the five-run first inning.
After MCLA went quietly in the first, Southern Vermont scored four runs on one hit and two errors in the second inning. That made it 9-0. Stacey walked to lead off the second, and for the game, he reached base in four out of his six plate appearances. He walked three times and was hit by a pitch.
"There's a lot of negatives" after a game like this, MCLA catcher Nick DiSanti said. "I look at the positives. We brought a lot of energy. We got runners in scoring position, but we just didn't get big hits to open up the game."
He's not kidding about that. The Trailblazers stranded 12 runners in the game. They left the bases loaded once and left two runners on in five innings. The Trailblazers did, however, go down in order in each of the final three innings.
Joe DiMassimo and Nate Gutmann each had two hits for the Trailblazers. Six different Mountaineers had multiple hit games. R.J. Pingitore had three hits.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.