NORTH ADAMS -- Greenfield starting pitcher Garrett Hudson lived up to his advanced billing and also helped ignite the Green Wave's offense with his legs to abruptly end Drury's season in the Western Mass. Division III semifinals Wednesday at MCLA's Zavattaro Complex.
"All we heard was Garrett Hudson, Garrett Hudson, Garrett Hudson all week," said Drury senior Tyler Cote after the 7-2 loss to the sixth-seeded Green Wave.
Three batters into the bottom of the first, it looked like the Blue Devils had the right-hander's fastball dialed in. With one out, Logan Rumbolt and Jacob Tatro rocketed back-to-back doubles to make it 1-0. But, after those two hard-hit balls, Hudson retired the next nine batters and allowed only two more hits while striking out 11.
"We tried to sit on his fastball and it was working early," Drury coach Pat Boulger said. "But he made an adjustment with his curve. Give him credit. He's earned the respect he's been given."
"He throws hard and has one of the best offspeed pitches I've ever seen," Cote said. "Once he went to his breaking ball, we were off balance."
Nonetheless, the second-seeded Blue Devils still led 1-0 through three inning with starter Tyler Briggs allowing only one hit and two walks. But, with a combination of Drury mistakes and aggressive baserunning by Hudson in the fourth, the game changed dramatically.
Briggs walked Hudson to start the inning and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Drew Barisano reached base and Hudson advanced to third on an error by shortstop Logan Rumbolt. The next two batters grounded out to Briggs and it looked like he might escape unscathed.
"I told my assistants, with everything that was going on, if we can get out of this without damage, we have our three, four and five hitters coming up," Boulger said.
But, with Hudson on third, Barisano on second and Briggs working from the windup, Hudson broke toward the plate in attempt to steal home. A startled Briggs balked and Hudson was awarded home.
"I think when our pitcher stole home, that changed the tempo of the game," Greenfield coach Tom Suchanek said.
"That was a huge momentum swing," agreed Boulger.
Kevin Luippold then singled to knock in Barisano. That was followed by a walk and a single by Owen Schilling, loading the bases. Briggs then uncorked a wild pitch to give up a third unearned run.
It was more of the same in the fifth when the inning started with a walk and an error by third baseman Schuyler Robinson and included a successful squeeze bunt by Greenfield's Jourdan York-Welcome.
"We didn't do the little things we needed to do" Boulger said. "That's sort of been our season. We've had a little Jekyll-Hyde thing going. We've had moments of greatness and then, uh-oh."
Briggs exited after the fifth having allowed only one earned run, though his walks did contribute to Greenfield's runs. Jake Tatro pitched the sixth and also was stung by two errors as the Green Wave tacked on two more runs.
The Blue Devils gave the almost 400 on hand a reason to hope in the sixth, scoring an unearned run when Tatro reached on an error and scored on a single by Shayne Garvey. But Hudson limited the damage and finished with a 1-2-3 ninth to set up a final against the winner of today's game between Athol and Monument Mountain.
While the Blue Devils (15-7) lost, Boulger was full of praise for his team in general, and senior captains Cote, Tyler Briggs and Joe Liporace in particular.
"These is the classiest group of kids I have ever coached," he said. "I only wish there was at least one more game to be played."
Cote also left with nothing but fond memories.
"I've been playing Tyler and Joe since I was five, so it's bittersweet," Cote said. "I love this team and I love coach Boulger. I'm glad we had some success and got the No. 2 seed. It shows that all the hard work paid off."
Greenfield 000 322 0 -- 7 5 2
Drury 100 001 x -- 2 4 4
Garrett Hudson and Jacob Ewell, Andrew Toritto; Tyler Briggs, Jacob Tatro (6) and Kody Crosier. W -- Hudson. L -- Briggs. 2B -- D 2 (Logan Rumbolt, Tatro).
To contact Richard Lord:
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