Photo Gallery | Drury-Hoosac High School Baseball
NORTH ADAMS — On a night when Matt Koperniak put himself into the Hoosac Valley baseball record book, the senior was happiest about keeping the Hurricanes' winning streak alive.
Koperniak tossed a four-hit shutout and pitched out of three bases-loaded jams against Drury (6-6) on Wednesday night. He also became Hoosac's all-time hit leader after going 3 for 3 in a 4-0 win over the Blue Devils.
"We had a rough start at the beginning of the season, a lot of close games that didn't go our way," said Koperniak. "Now, they're starting to go our way. It's looking good for us right now and hopefully, we can keep it rolling."
The Hurricanes (6-5) took this version of the Route 8 rivalry by keeping the Blue Devils off the scoreboard. That, however, was not easy. Koperniak walked seven and gave up three hits in six innings of work. The Hurricanes committed three errors behind him.
So, even with the chances, Drury did not score. The Blue Devils left the bases loaded with no outs in the third and left them loaded again in the fifth and sixth. Drury was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"It is tough," said Drury catcher Kody Crosier. "But then again, that's baseball. We'll just come back tomorrow and try to turn things around."
While it was a frustrating night for Drury coach Pat Boulger and his players, it was a night full of relief for the Hurricanes.
"It didn't feel like" a four-hit shutout, said Hoosac coach Mike Larabee. "Matty struggled, but boy, he beared down and he did what he had to do. He got the punch outs when he needed them. He's quite a player."
Koperniak got a single in his second at-bat against McCann Tech in the Wahconah Tournament to reach 100 career hits. Wednesday night, the Trinity College-bound senior tied Rob Crouse with 121 hits when Koperniak hit a two-run triple in the second. Then in the fourth, he hit a two-out single to left field to top the list. Koperniak finished his offensive night with a single in the sixth.
"It's an amazing feeling. I didn't really expect to do this," said Koperniak. "I'm proud to be on this team and represent the school.
"When something like this happens, it's great. I'm just really amazed."
The Hurricanes got a run in the top of the first when Koperniak led off with a walk on four pitches. Dahndray Sistrunk tried to bunt him over, but on an overthrow by Crosier, Koperniak came all the way around to score as the ball rolled to the Hoosac bullpen down the right field line.
Then in the second, the Hurricanes had runners on the corners with one out when Koperniak hit a 3-1 pitch to straightaway center field, the deepest part of Joe Wolfe Field. He ended up on third, while John Krol and Jack Sniezek scored, making it 3-0.
That turned out to be enough of a cushion, but not without some angst.
After leaving two runners on in the first, the Blue Devils loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with nobody out in the third. Koperniak struck out Thaylen Harrison and losing pitcher Ryan Dubie and got Crosier on a pop to Sistrunk at short.
Two innings later, the Blue Devils loaded the bases with two outs, but Koperniak got Connor Clark to strike out. One inning later, Harrison struck out with the bases loaded and two outs. It was the 13th strikeout of Koperniak's night. He stranded 12 Blue Devils in his six innings of work.
"It was close every inning. For some reason, I was wild and had a lot of walks," said Koperniak. "When it came down to it, I got [the fastball] over the plate."
Drury starter Dubie had a bit of a tough-luck night. The right-hander did give up four runs on eight hits in six innings of work. But only two of those runs were earned. Any coach would take a two earned run, eight hit night. Unfortunately for Dubie and the Blue Devils, they just couldn't get that clutch hit.
"It just brings us back to square one. It's no secret, we need to change something," said Crosier. "We're not getting the job done right now.
"We'll just change our mind set and hopefully we'll come back tomorrow."
Matt Koperniak (6), Noah Matrigali (1) and Jake Swistak. Ryan Dubie (6), Hayden Bird (1) and Kody Crosier. W—Koperniak. L—Dubie. 2B—HV (J.P. Levesque, Swistak), D (Crosier). 3B—HV (Matt Koperniak).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.