PITTSFIELD — The Wahconah baseball team has two objectives heading into the Western Massachusetts tournament: starting fast and ending strong.
The Warriors executed their game plan on Friday, scoring four times in the first inning, and holding on for a 5-4 win over Hoosac Valley in a matchup between two second-place teams in the Berkshire Classic.
"It's been our focus the entire second half of the season," Wahconah coach Rob Cowdrey said. "To jump out early, take control of the game and if we do make mistakes in the field, we have a cushion."
Every batter in the Wahconah lineup had an at-bat in the first inning. With one out, Ty Cowdrey reached base with a walk. Andrew Beaudoin moved him to third with a double, and Matt Schneider plated the first run with a single up the middle.
Austin Cancilla then drew a walk, loading the bases, and Gage Frazier drove him in with a single. Cam Taylor's walk plated the third run of the inning, and Ben Schmitt's sacrifice fly scored Cancilla for the final run. Schneider added an RBI single in the second inning, which proved to be the difference.
After the rough start, Hoosac starter Matt Koperniak settled down, allowing no runs and three hits over four innings.
He helped his cause at the plate as well with a two-run home run to right field, cutting the 'Canes' deficit to one in the fifth inning.
After a 1-2-3 sixth, Wahconah starter Will Genaway intentionally walked Koperniak with two outs in the seventh, but Dahndray Sistrunk could not make the Warriors pay. Sistrunk had two hits, including a double. Noah Matrigali had an RBI single, and J.P. Levesque hit Hoosac's first home run of the game with a high flying ball that cleared the left-center field fence in the fourth.
"We swing a good bat, we've swung the bat good all year long. It's not surprising that we have that type of power, but we dug ourselves a hole," Hoosac coach Mike Larabee said. "I don't think [Koperniak] was on today and he felt it early, but he's a battler. He's a kid you can rely on."
Similar to the Warriors, the Hurricanes are heading to the Western Mass. tournament as well. They'll finish up the regular season Sunday against Lenox.
Two weeks after needing a walk-off home run from Schneider after Southwick's Jake Goodreau hit a game-tying home run, Cowdrey decided to play it safe by walking Koperniak late. His decision to put Koperniak on base to face Sistrunk — who had two hits already — showed his faith in Genaway. Schneider said the win should build the team's confidence in its ability to perform in late-game situations. Genaway earned the win, striking out six.
"We like to get ahead in counts and then [Genaway] can throw his curveball. ... He was able to throw first-pitch strikes which was huge for us," Schneider said. "This is huge for us confidence-wise going into the tournament. We know we can win these game, going into the seventh with a one-run lead."
Will Genaway and Matt Schneider. Matt Koperniak (6), Keegan McGrath (1) and Jake Swistak. W — Genaway. L — Koperniak. 2B — W 1 (Beaudoin). HV 1 (Dahndray Sistrunk). HR — HV 2 (J.P. Levesque, Koperniak).
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252