NORTH ADAMS -- It was Senior Night for Drury's baseball team at Joe Wolfe Field on Wednesday, so it was fitting for a senior to take center stage. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, that senior was Hoosac Valley pitcher Justin Nichols.
The left-hander faced the minimum 11 hitters through the first 323 innings and gave up just three singles as Nichols shut out the Blue Devils 3-0.
"Nichols did a great job tonight. He was on point," said Hoosac center fielder Matt Braman. "It was an excellent effort."
The Hoosac lefty pitched out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings. The Blue Devils left a runner at third base in the fifth and had the potential tying run come to the plate in the seventh.
"Tyler threw a heck of a game. We just couldn't find a hole," Drury coach Pat Boulger said. "Nichols threw a heck of a game and Tyler threw a heck of a game."
Nichols threw 94 pitches in seven fairly tidy innings, 63 of them for strikes. Of the 27 hitters he faced, he got first-pitch strikes on 15 of them. When the night was over, Nichols had given up singles to Schuyler Robinson, Logan Rumbolt and Shayne Garvey. The southpaw struck out three and walked two.
"My fastball was really working for me tonight. At the beginning, I was struggling a bit with the curveball," he said. "After around the third our fourth inning, I really started to get it down."
It would be fair to call Briggs a "hard-luck" loser on Wednesday. The righty gave up three runs on six hits, but only one run was earned. He walked two and struck out four.
Hoosac took advantage of an opportunity to score a run in the first. After Briggs struck out Ty Clark and Joe Buonemani, Brandon Tworig singled to right. After stealing second, Tworig took third on a wild pitch. He scored when Jake Swistak's grounder went through the legs of third baseman Schuyler Robinson for an error.
The Hurricanes added a run on no hits, a walk and an error in the third, and made it 3-0 when Buonemani (2 for 3) hit an RBI single that plated Sean Ryan-Kut.
"Considering that in most of our games we were down early, [those runs] boosted our confidence," said Nichols.
The Blue Devils had one last chance to send the fans home from The Joe happy. With one out, Garvey lined an opposite-field single to right. After Joe Liporace flied out, Kirby Bryce was hit by a pitch. Tyler Cote's fly ball ended the game.
The Hurricanes were already guaranteed a spot in the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament by virtue of finishing second in the Southern Division. With the win, Hoosac guaranteed itself a .500 record.
"Now we're legitimately in," said Braman. "We really didn't back in with the second place. It's a good feeling to come in with a little bit of momentum heading into the tournament."
Hoosac 011 001 0 -- 3 6 1
Drury 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2
Justin Nichols and Jake Swistak. Tyler Briggs (6), Tyler Cote (1) and Cody Crosier. W--Nichols. L--Briggs. 2B--HV 1 (Joe Buonemani).