Seniors from both teams recognized in pregame ceremonies
By Mark Carpenter
Senior Night came to the baseball diamond at North Adams High School on Tuesday, May 3 as the Green Devils hosted the Manchester Greyhounds in an all-county Southern Hills Athletic Conference battle. Thirteen seniors from the two teams were recognized before the game: from Manchester-Sean Frost, Michael Rickett, Rickey DeAtley, Mason Applegate, and Jared Stricklett; from North Adams-Austin Copas, Mikey Sheeley, Kenny Branch, Cole Roades, Trey Meade, Justin Hilderbrand, Cole Meade, and Avery Lucas.
For North Adams head coach Rob Meade, it was an extra emotional evening, as he has coached many of these young men for years and it was also Senior Night for two of his twin sons, Trey and Cole.
“This game tonight was a little tough on me,” said Coach Meade. “I have had a connection with some of these guys since they were four and five years old. It has been a great experience watching them all grow as both players and young men.”
When the action on the field began, the host Green Devils jumped to an early lead and behind the pitching of Copas and Sheeley, hung a 7-2 defeat on the visiting Greyhounds to improve their record to 11-5 for the season, 5-5 in the SHAC. The loss dropped the Hounds to 5-6 on the year, 3-6 in conference play.
After Copas retired the Hounds in order in the top of the first, the Devils played a little small ball in the bottom half to get the game’s first run off of Manchester starter Sean Frost. Bryant Lung beat out a bunt to lead off the frame, went around to third on a pair of wild pitches, and scored on a Kenny Branch base hit to left.
“We got off to a good start in the first inning when Bryant got on base and then we moved him around to score,” said Coach Meade.
The pitcher’s duel between Frost and Copas then set in as neither team could dent the plate until the Devils came to bat in the bottom of the third. After Frost began the inning by striking out Avery Lucas and Lung, Copas grounded a base hit to right and Sheeley reached on an error, then both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Branch walked to load the bases and the first run of the inning came home when Cole Meade was hit by a pitch. Sheeley raced home on yet another wild pitch by the uncharacteristically wild Frost and the Devils held a 3-0 advantage.
The Greyhounds broke their scoring ice in the top half of the fourth when Applegate reached on a fielder’s choice and then later slid head first across the plate after a Michael Rickett ground out with the first Manchester run.
If the Hounds had ideas of making their way back into this contest after getting that initial run, they were quickly doused in the bottom of the fourth when the Devils plated two more.
With one out, pinch hitter Justin Hilderbrand drew a walk and from that point on in the inning, Frost had difficulty finding the strike zone. Ben Figgins followed with another base on balls, and Lung coaxed the third free pass of the inning off of the Manchester right hander. Austin Parks, who had re-entered for Hilderbrand, scored on a wild pitch and after a walk to Copas, Greyhounds’ head coach Kyle Brewer went to the bullpen and brought in right hander Kaulen Cox with the bases jammed and one out.
Cox walked the first batter he faced in Sheeley to force home another run and give North Adams a 5-1 lead. Cox got out of further trouble by striking out Branch and getting Cole Meade to fly to center.
The Devils continued to put distance between themselves and the Hounds in their next at-bat, getting to Cox for two more. Trey Meade walked and went to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a base hit to left by Roades. A ground ball to short stop by Parks brought Meade across and a ground out by Figgins scored Roades to make it 7-1.
In the top of the sixth, the North Adams faithful got a bit of a surprise after Copas walked Frost and beaned Colton Thornburg to begin the inning. Coach Meade then called on Sheeley to pitch for the first time this spring, after the right hander had been battling elbow issues since the season’s start. Sheeley gave up a base hit to Applegate to fill the bases and when Kaige Cox popped out to shortstop, Frost on third caught the Devils’ defense napping and headed for home, scoring the second Manchester run of the game.
The southpaw DeAtley pitched a scoreless sixth for the Hounds and in the top of the seventh, Sheeley set down the side in order, getting DeAtley swinging for the game’s final out in the 11th win of the year for the Green Devils.
Copas got the win, going five innings plus and allowing just one earned run while striking out five. The unusually wild Frost took the loss, lasting just 3 1/3 innings, walking five, and giving up five earned runs, but only three hits. Manchester pitchers issued 10 free passes in the game.
“I thought Copas threw the ball well and kept them off-balance throughout the game,” added Coach Meade. “He has been battling some sickness and he was able to get off to a quick start with some innings of 10 or less pitches and that helped him go deep into the game.”
“Having Mikey come on in relief was good to see. He has been rehabbing an injury and this was his first regular season action on the mound. Hopefully he will continue to get stronger and we will be able to use him the rest of the way.”
Both teams were facing busy weeks as they scrambled to make up postponed games, before tourney play next week. Weather permitting, the Devils were set to face Fayetteville on back to back days, Wednesday and Thursday and then travel to Lynchburg on Friday, while the Greyhounds were scheduled to host Whiteoak on Thursday, travel to Fayetteville on Friday, and then host Fairfield on Saturday morning.
MHS 000 101 0 —2
NAHS 102 220 x —7
MHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Lucas 3-0-0-0, DeAtley 4-0-0-0, Frost 2-1-0-0, Thornburg 2-0-0-0, Applegate 3-1-1-0, Kaige Cox 3-0-2-1, Rickett 3-0-0-0, Stricklett 3-0-0-0, Kaulen Cox 3-0-1-0, Team 26-2-4-1.
NAHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Lung 2-1-1-0, Copas 2-1-1-0, Sheeley 3-1-0-2, Branch 2-0-1-0, Daulton 1-0-0-0, C. Meade 3-0-1-1, T. Meade 3-1-0-0, Roades 3-1-1-0, Parks 2-1-0-1, Hilderbrand 0-0-0-0, Lucas 1-0-0-0, Figgins 0-0-0-1, Team 22-7-5-5.
MHS Pitching: Frost (L) 3.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 80 pitches
Kaulen Cox 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 42 pitches
DeAtley 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 pitches
NAHS Pitching: Copas (W) 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 85 pitches
Sheeley 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K, 25 pitches