|Potash Pitches River Monsters to Win in BABL Series Opener|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
04:00PM / Saturday, August 19, 2023
|Before the game, postseason honors were given to, from left, Mike Koperniak, Tom Ingersoll, Will Grega and Tyler Wade.|
DALTON, Mass. – Hunter Potash Saturday struck out 11 and allowed no earned runs in pitching the Housatonic River Monsters to a 4-3 win over the North County Kraken in the opening game of the Berkshire Adult Baseball League 20-and-over division Championship Series.
The River Monsters can complete the defense of their 2022 title on Sunday at 10 a.m. when they face the Kraken in Game 2 of their best-of-three series at 10 a.m. at Hoosac Valley High School.
A Kraken win on their home field on Sunday morning will set up a winner-take-all title game at about 1 p.m.
In the league’s 33-and-over division on Saturday, the Berkshire Thunder came from behind late to earn an 8-6 win over Tunnel City Feight in their Championship Series opener. The Thunder Sunday will look to finish the series and an 18-0 season when they play Tunnel City at 10 a.m. at the Dalton American Legion field.
Housatonic Valley Saturday also came from behind to beat the division’s top regular season team.
The Kraken, which went 13-2 in the regular season, scored three times in the top of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Jacob Swistak got that rally going with an infield single. Zach Swistak then worked a walk.
Potash got the next hitter swinging, but North County’s Darren Jefferson reached on an error that also allowed Jacob Swistak to score to make it 1-0.
Potash recorded a strikeout for the inning’s second out before allowing a walk to load the bases. Corey Meczywor then hit a ground ball that took a wicked hop to sneak into left field, plating two runs to give the Kraken’s Joe Gratton a three-run cushion.
Gratton pitched out of trouble in the first and second innings, stranding two runners in scoring position each time, to hold that lead.
But the River Monsters broke through in the fourth, scoring four runs on just one hit.
Housatonic made the most of two North County errors and four walks in the rally.
Potash helped his cause with a leadoff single and eventually scored. Ben Snow drove in a run with an RBI groundout, and Zach Zerbato capped the inning with a bases-loaded walk to drive in the winning run.
Potash and Gratton kept the door closed from there.
Gratton retired 10 in a row with six of his seven strikeouts to close the game.
Potash gave up some base runners but no more runs, striking out the side in the fourth and seventh innings.
Before Saturday morning’s game, BABL Chief Operating Officer Louis Orazio handed out post-season awards in the 20-and-over division.
North County’s Mike Koperniak and Housatonic’s Tyler Wade were named the league’s Pitcher of the Year and Batter of the year, respectively. Koperniak compiled a 1.65 earned run average in 34 innings, going 5-0 on the mound. Wade batted .417 with eight RBIs in 13 games for the Kraken.
Tom Ingersoll of the Great Barrington Millers, one of the league’s original players, earned the league’s Sportsmanship Award. Will Grega, who batted .429 and had a 1.16 ERA in 36 and one-third innings for the Berkshire Bandits, was named the league’s most valuable player.