Jared Henry K's 15 as Monument Mountain beats Drury
The Monument Mountain starting pitcher had a career day, striking out 15 Drury hitters and driving in two runs in the Spartans' five-run fourth inning as the South Division leaders pulled away to beat the Blue Devils 9-0 on an overcast Wednesday afternoon.
"No, it was my first time ever," Henry said. "It feels great, but I had my team to back me up today, so it wasn't just me."
With the win, the Spartans earned a berth in the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament. Monument missed the tournament last year, and is only four years removed from winning the Western Mass. title.
"If you asked me at the beginning of the season if we would make it this quick, I would have said no," said Henry. "We were so young and had a lot of learning to do. Everybody's stepping up. We made the tournament, and it's awesome."
Henry is one of a small group of seniors in a program that had 12 freshmen come out. One of those freshman, Jackson Blanchard, went 1 for 2 with a two-run single in the fourth.
The Spartans had a 13-hit afternoon against Drury pitchers Connor Kelly and Corbin Rumbolt. Tyler Wade was 3 for 4 while four other Spartans had two hits each.
It was a rough afternoon for the Blue Devils (6-6, 2-4), who had a four-game winning streak snapped. It was also a far cry from the first meeting, when Monument won 15-10 thanks to 14 unearned runs.
Five of the six runs Kelly gave up as the starter were earned, but it was a costly throwing error on a grounder by Kyle Gochey that opened the door to the five-run fourth.
Those innings often start with a leadoff walk, and that's what Monument's Mike Goretti worked. Sean Dupont put down a bunt, but instead of a sacrifice, beat it out for a base hit, and since everyone charged the bunt, nobody covered third and Goretti ended up there. Kyle Gochey grounded to third but Corbin Rumbolt got an error on a throw to second, plating Goretti. Gochey did get an RBI. Then the flood gates opened on the two-run singles by Blanchard and Henry.
The lead put the attention back on Henry, and the senior pitcher did not disappoint.
At one point, he struck out five consecutive batters and retired 10 straight before Chad Lawrence hit a two-out single in the seventh inning.
Henry not only struck out 15, he did so in an efficient 88-pitch day.
"It's been a while," Monument coach Tom Hankey said when asked about the 15-strikeout performance. "Honestly, it has been. He was great today. He's been working at it. Give him some credit. He spends time on his craft to try and get it going."
Henry faced 25 hitters and had three full counts in the game. Each time, Henry got the strikeout.
With seven games to go, the Blue Devils still find themselves in the hunt for a tournament berth.
"We have to get ourselves healthy again and get ourselves back into our routine," Drury coach Pat Boulger said after the game. "We have to get four wins. I think there are four wins out there, I really do. We don't care how they come, when they come, if they're pretty or ugly, we don't care."
While there are still eight games left for Monument, a 4-0 record in the South puts them a leg up on the competition. The Spartans play Mount Everett on Thursday, a game rescheduled from Tuesday.
"This is the first check mark," Hankey said. "Now we just focus on getting a good seed and trying to get better."
Drury 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Monument 001 521 x — 9 13 0
Connor Kelly (4), Corbin Rumbolt (2) and Dylan Toomey. Jared Henry and Max Joyner. W — Henry. L — Kelly. 2B — MM (Sean Dupont). 3B — MM (Tyler Wade).
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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