Frontier wins WMass Class C championship over Smith Voc

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2023 11:08 AM

GREENFIELD — The Rooster hummed a song of victory in his head while staring defeat in the eyes.

Frontier Regional junior Wyatt Edes, nicknamed after the barnyard crower for his flowing red locks and crimson goatee, stood in the Veterans Field batter’s box on May 30 with two outs and runners on first and third.

The Redhawks were tied with top-seeded Smith Vocational in the Western Massachusetts Class C baseball final.

“Whenever I’m in a big spot, I look for runners in scoring position every game,” said Edes. “I feel more comfortable up there.”

There aren’t many spots bigger. Frontier hadn’t won a Western Massachusetts baseball title since 2013 and lost its last four championship appearances.

Edes dropped the go-ahead single over the middle infield and brought in Tyler Cusson for what wound up as the game-winning run.

“We talk about who will get the clutch hit at what point in the game, and he did for us,” Frontier coach Chris Williams said.

The No. 3 seed Redhawks won 3-2 after pitcher Liam Skribiski-Banack slammed the door in the seventh inning. He struck out 10 and allowed just five hits. Only one came after the third inning.

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“When he’s on the mound, it just doesn’t feel like they’re gonna score unless we make a mistake,” Edes said.

Frontier (14-6) trailed for most of the game.

Smith Vocational, seeking the school’s first Western Mass. title in any sport, jumped to a two-run lead after the first two innings.

Vikings shortstop Rosco Palmer singled with one out in the first then stole second. Caden Payne brought him home two batters later with an RBI single.

Pat Millin reached on an error to open the next inning, and Carter Blanchette doubled the Vikings’ advantage with an RBI single.

“Toward the end we didn’t hit, we hit early. We needed a couple more for these guys, these guys are good,” Smith Vocational coach Luis Bonilla said.

The Redhawks loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the third after a Brady Poreda walk, an Alex Gochinski bloop single and a Nico Fasulo single. Grayson Loos brought in a run with a groundout, but it turned into a double play. Another ground out ended the inning with Frontier down 2-1.

Skribiski-Banack allowed just a Payne double and a Millin single after that. He authored three 1-2-3 innings out of the last four.

“I was trying to figure out the hard mound. I’ve never really pitched here before,” Skribiski-Banack said. “First time, pretty good.”

Frontier waited for its last few outs to rally. Fasulo singled with one out in the seventh then stole second. A strikeout brought up Tyler Cusson. He sent the ball high into left field, and it dropped out of the setting sun to tie the game at 2.

“We don’t typically play teams of this caliber. We had one error there that cost us the game,” Bonilla said. “We competed with them, not only that, we could have beat them just on that one catch. I’m super proud of my team. It breaks my heart that that kid had to go through that.”

The Vikings will have more opportunities to prove themselves at that level. They’ll appear in the state vocational tournament and are expected to be the No. 11 seed in the Division 5 state tournament when brackets are officially released on Wednesday.

“We should have won that game. We had that game,” Bonilla said. “If we play our game, no errors, we can beat just about anybody.”

Frontier celebrated ending a decade of disappointment in the sectional final. The Redhawks lost in 2016, 2018 and 2022.

“We needed a new runner-up banner if we lost this,” Skribiski-Banack said. “On Memorial Day we were helping out with all of the parents of veterans and actual veterans and we realized we’re a big community. This is bigger than us. It’s bigger than the seniors. This is a town. They call us the blue bloods for a reason.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>