Monday June 4, 2012

WILLIAMSTOWN -- To make the Western Mass achusetts tournament, a baseball team needs strong hitters at the top of the lineup. To possibly win a title, that same team needs to be strong throughout the batting order.

Sunday afternoon, the bottom of the Greylock batting order had half of the Mounties' 14 hits, scored six runs and Nick Zimmerman drove in five as third-seeded Mount Greylock knocked No. 6 Hoosac Valley out of the Division II tournament with a 12-3 quarterfinal win.

"All year long, we've had different kids step up," Greylock coach Steve Messina said. "The last time we played these guys, Josh Fortier carried us on his back. Today Zim had a couple of big hits. We can rest a little easier knowing there's someone back there who can do the job."

Andrew Leitch got the win, giving up two runs on three hits in six innings of work. Ian Brink pitched the seventh. Starter Mike Koperniak, the first of three Hoosac hitters, took the loss after going 2 1/3 innings.

The other Division II quarterfinal games will be played today, and the Mounties will face the winner of the game between No. 2 South Hadley and No. 7 Southwick.

Hoosac took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Matt Braman and an RBI double by Tanner Bird.

Koperniak got the leadoff hitter in the third, but the wheels came off when he walked Billy Pulasky. The next six batters reached base against Koperniak on four hits, a walk and a hit batter. Mike Munzer walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and Zimmerman then punched a two-run single to left on a 3-2 pitch, capping off the rally and giving the Mounties a 6-2 lead.

"The bases were loaded and I just wanted to get a few [RBI], like insurance runs," said Zimmerman. "I just tried to stick my bat out there. I didn't get a very good piece, actually it went off the handle. It went through."

That inning gave Leitch and the Mounties a real boost and took some of the air out of the Hurricanes. Head coach Bob Rivard

"It was the lower part of the order. We've been talking all week about the lower part of the order getting on base," said Rivard. "The walks come back to beat you."

While Greylock scored runs in all but one inning, Leitch shut the Hurricanes down after giving up the two runs in the third. After giving up Bird's RBI double, the Greylock right-hander put nine straight Hurricanes down before Zach Lancia got a two-out single in the sixth.

Andrew Leitch was as good with the stick as he was on the bump. He went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI. His brother Eric, playing third Sunday, had several outstanding defensive plays at third.

For the Mounties, it was the third consecutive year they opened against another Berkshire County team. They beat Wahconah Regional two years ago and Monument Mountain last year.

"I told these guys that getting a Berkshire County draw is a tough thing. Baseball is very good here. I think it's the best in Western Mass." said Messina. "To play a team like that in the first round is no small task."

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Hoosac 002 000 1--3 6 1

Greylock 015 213 x--12 14 2

Mike Koperniak (2 1/3), Justin Nichols (3), Tanner Bird (2/3) and Connor Tworig. Andrew Leitch (6), Ian Brink (1) and Nick DiSanti. W -- A. Leitch. L -- Koperniak. 2B -- HV 1 (Bird). MG 2 (Nick Zimmerman, Eric Leitch, Andrew Leitch).