Photo Gallery | Drury vs Monument Mountain
NORTH ADAMS — The Drury baseball team has not yet qualified for a Western Massachusetts Division III tournament berth. But there can be no doubt that the Blue Devils have to feel like they're already in the playoffs — one loss and they're done.
Drury came into Wednesday's game with Monument Mountain needing to win it, and three more, to qualify for the tournament. Kody Crosier made sure the Blue Devils got to survive to another day.
Crosier hit the first pitch from Monument Mountain reliever Nate Cormier to right field, scoring Ryan Dubie and Nate Hillard to give the Blue Devils a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Joe Wolfe Field.
"Before [the pitch], I prayed to my brother there for a second, and I knew he was with me," said Crosier, who got a post-game water shower while talking with reporters. "I was just looking for a fastball, somewhat over the plate, and I just tried to hit it hard somewhere."
There is still a long road to go if the Blue Devils hope to keep their current streak of qualifying for the postseason alive. Drury has been to the last seven tournaments, missing in 2008. The Blue Devils are at Lenox today, and at Monument on Friday. Drury travels to St. Joseph Saturday in the Berkshire Classic.
"We need these next games. We see [Monument] again and Lenox again," said Drury shortstop Logan Rumbolt. "We need to put more runs together than just three, and getting them in the bottom of the seventh.
"We need to be smart in every inning."
The path for Monument to get to the tournament is not as long as Drury's but is just as harrowing. The Spartans play Drury and then travel to Lee on Saturday in the Classic, and they need to win both to get back into the tournament they missed last year.
"We know what we've got to do," said Spartans head coach Tom Hankey. "We've just got to play better."
Monument broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. Branden Perry reached on an error by Rumbolt. After Joe Aberdale flied to left, freshman Graham Herrick roped the first pitch he saw from Conor Clark to right field. Perry came all the way around from first, putting the Spartans up 2-1. Monument's hope for a big inning was foiled after Herrick was thrown out at home on a contact play with Tyler Wade grounding to Rumbolt.
Herrick, meanwhile, was mowing down Drury hitters. The left-hander came on to relieve starter Ben Wyatt with two outs in the fourth inning. All Herrick did was retire eight straight hitters, but ran into trouble in the seventh.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Dubie reached on an error by shortstop Nate Cormier. Herrick walked Hillard and hit Rumbolt with a pitch. Hankey came on to make a pitching change, Cormier for Herrick.
The first pitch Crosier saw, he went the other way on, and when Hillard slid home with the second run, the Blue Devils had their win.
"I knew I got good wood on it. It just found the right spot, for once, today," said Crosier, whose brother Kyle died one year ago in June. "I'm just grateful."
Hayden Bird pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief of Clark, who gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings. Bird gets credit for the win.
Drury coach Pat Boulger said he was glad the players got him off the hook. In the fifth inning, Boulger sent Zach Yeaton home from second on a single by Dubie. But Wade started the play in left, hit the cut off man Josh Zinberg at third and Zinberg threw to Perry and Yeaton was out by a couple of feet.
"I'm happy they picked me up," said Boulger. "I feel like I let them down on that call. I was just trying to create something there."
The win may not make things any easier for Drury, but the coach said that it has to give them a jolt of energy.
"It's a nice win. It keeps us alive," said Boulger. "It keeps a good feeling about ourselves, where we could possibly pull something off that's very special."
One out when winning run scored
Ben Wyatt (3 2/3), Graham Herrick (2 2/3), Nate Cormier (0) and Branden Perry. Conor Clark (6), Hayden Bird (1) and Kody Crosier. W—Bird. L—Herrick. 2B—MM (Perry), D (Logan Rumbolt). 3B—MM (Herrick).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.