by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – The Hazen Union baseball team piled onto an already dreadful season for Williamstown last week with a dominant win at home, improving to 2-0.
Senior slugger Tyler Rivard led the Wildcat offense with a 4-4 effort that included a pair of triples, powering Hazen past Williamstown 15-0 over the weekend at Hudson Fields. Fellow senior Jadon Baker drove in four runs on a pair of hits and James Montgomery added a triple and was solid once again behind the plate.
“We don’t put a lot of stock into how much teams have struggled going into our match-up with them. Almost everybody has one really good pitcher and we did a nice job of working the counts, staying focused, and approaching it like every other matchup,” said head coach Spencer Howard.
Lyle Rooney worked an efficient two innings on the mound for Hazen, striking out three without walking a single batter. He helped fuel an eight-run second inning with a pair of hits of his own, while driving in three runs. He exited after the game was well in hand and has yet to allow a hit this season through seven innings of work.
“It was a cold day to pitch and I think Lyle was struggling to grip the baseball and still knocking some rust off in the first inning, but he tightened up his mechanics after that and threw the ball really well. We have some good depth in our pitching rotation this season and it was a good day to spread the workload and let some other guys finally see some live hitting real time game situations,” said Howard.
Junior Andrew Menard logged his first two innings of the year on the mound for the Wildcats, allowing one hit, striking out five, and walking three. Sophomore Brendan Moodie finished up with an inning of work, striking out a pair, without allowing a hit or a free pass. Jaymeson Locarho took the loss for Williamstown, striking out four in two-plus innings. The Blue Devils fell to 0-4 on the season and have yet to score a run, being outscored 70-0 along the way. The Wildcats upset the Blue Devils as a 12 seed in Howard’s first season as skipper in 2019 and both programs have spiraled in opposite directions ever since.
“Andrew had to knock off some expected rust in his first time out, but I liked the way he battled through the conditions and a tough first inning, fighting his way out of a bases-loaded jam. He threw the ball really well after that. Brendan attacked the strike zone well, mixed in some good off-speed pitches, and we’ll look to build on that throughout the season. We had seen Locarho before and he has a good breaking ball, but he was just a little off pitching in those elements. We did a nice job of capitalizing on some errors and sat on a few hangers deep in the count,” said Howard.
The Wildcats have won 17 of 20 dating back to last season and are preparing for a match-up with two-time Division III state champion Peoples Academy (PA) this week. Senior Ben Alekson is a flame thrower for the Wolves and is regarded as the best pitcher in the state, shutting down the Wildcats 9-0 in the title game at Centennial Field last June. PA has moved up to Division II this season and Howard and his squad are preparing for their stiffest test of the young season. Moodie was on that championship team last season for the Wolves, but now plays second base for the Wildcats.
“Regardless of whether we see Alekson or not, we are preparing for them the same way. There may be a little added motivation for the guys going into this one, but we’ll prepare and approach this week the same way that we always do and just keep building on what we’ve started here at Hazen, one game at a time,” said Howard.
The Wildcats were scheduled to travel to PA on Tuesday and will welcome Northfield to town on Saturday afternoon.