Wahconah baseball wins Western Mass. for first time since 2007
Photo Gallery | Wahconah wins Western Mass. D-III baseball championship
AMHERST — Matt Schneider remembers vividly the last time a Wahconah baseball team won a Western Massachusetts title.
"I was a bat boy on that team" in 2007, said Schneider. "You always want to make your mark in Wahconah history. Now, we won one."
Schneider reached base four times, going 3-for-3 (two- and three-run doubles) with five runs batted in to back up Will Genaway's complete game as the fourth-seeded Warriors (16-8) survived a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay and third-seeded Frontier Regional (17-4) to win 13-3 Saturday afternoon, and claim the Division III championship.
When Wahconah last won the title in 2007, the Warriors beat Southwick 4-3.
"I do" remember the game, said Schneider. "It was at Joe Wolfe [in North Adams], a passed ball and I remember the dog pile at home plate, it was pretty cool.
"Now, to have one of my own is awesome."
Wahconah never trailed on this Saturday afternoon. The Warriors got to Frontier starter Noah Barnes for two runs in the first inning and two more in the second.
Frontier used four pitchers and two of them — including starter Barnes — gave up 10 hits. Barnes surrendered seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings while Evan Bourque was charged with the other six in two innings of work.
Frontier coach Chris Williams said the Warriors were as good a hitting team as the Red Hawks had faced all year. Schneider, Shane Sinopoli and Ty Cowdrey all had multi-hit games. Sinopoli, Cowdrey, Cam Taylor and Genaway all drove two runs each.
"Absolutely. I was very impressed with that Wahconah team," said Williams. "One through nine, they were a tough out. I mean, Genaway was batting No. 9. I think in his first at bat he must have fouled off a half-dozen pitches.
"That's a deep team right there."
Wahconah made a statement right off the jump with three straight hits that turned into two runs. Cowdrey and Andrew Beaudoin hit back-to-back, one-out singles. Schneider then hit a 2-2 pitch from Barnes into left for a double that plated both runners. Sinopoli tripled home a run in the second and scored on Cowdrey's sacrifice fly in the second to make it 4-0. It looked like it was going to be a quick day for Wahconah, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
A deluge forced suspension of the game with no outs in the bottom of the third. Two hours, 35 minutes later, the game resumed. Genaway said he felt fine after the long delay, and first-year Wahconah coach Rob Cowdrey said he had no intention of taking the right-hander out.
"There wasn't any thought about it. He only had 36 pitches at the time," said the Wahconah coach. "There's always concern when there's a delay that big, having to start again. We were talking throughout and he even threw a little bit in between, just to keep a little limber while we were in that delay.
"We just basically treated the first part of the game as a bullpen session, and we just started him back up again like he was starting a new game."
One inning later, Wahconah basically brought down the curtain.
Taylor walked on four pitches and with one out, Genaway walked on four. Sinopoli doubled home Taylor, and that was it for Barnes.
Evan Bourque fared no better, giving up an RBI single to Cowdrey and walking Andrew Beaudoin to load the bases. Schneider then hit a 2-2 pitch to center. Barnes, now playing center, ran the ball down. By the time he did, three runs had scored and the Assumption College-bound catcher was on second.
"I was looking to drive the ball again," said Schneider. "Hopefully, I got a gap and I found a gap. They all came around, which was absolutely perfect."
Genaway, who scattered 10 hits but struck out seven Red Hawks, did give up a solo home run to Frontier pinch-hitter Dylan Husted with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Genaway struck out pinch-hitter Nate Patterson to end the game and begin the celebration.
And as the Warriors headed back to their bus and the expected police escort in Dalton, senior shortstop Andrew Beaudoin didn't seem to want to give up the championship trophy.
"I will not let go of this," said Beaudoin.
Nor will the Warriors.
Will Genaway and Matt Schneider. Noah Barnes (3 1/3), Evan Bourque (2), Bryce Jordan (2/3), Nate Patterson (1) and Bailey Powers. W—Genaway. L—Barnes. 2B—W 2 (Schneider 2). 3B—W (Sinopoli). HR—F (Dylan Husted).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.