WEST GROTON — A wise man once said, “it must be summer because H&V is in the finals,” but he didn’t mention anything about how long their stay there would be. After falling 14-5 in the series opener, H&V tried to get back on even ground on Thursday night and instead found themselves firmly against the ropes. Devens Grille continued to play the role of the bully, racking up 18 hits, en route to a 16-5 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best -of-five series.
In the top of the first, Devens Grille pushed across a pair of runs to take the lead. Jason Labell reached on a fielder’s choice, Jason Welch singled and George Migrants walked to load the bases. Jamie Pinard then produced a run with a fielder’s choice before Kirk Camblin came up with a two-out RBI single to make it a 2-0 game.
H&V responded with a two-spot in the home half of the second. Jason Carroll led off with a triple that went by a diving outfielder and then scored on a ground out. With two outs, Corey Bazillion took second on an error before scoring on a dropped fly ball. A Tim Churchill single put two on with two outs, but “The Kid” Jeff Labell got a pop out to escape the jam.
After Devens Grille got a single run in the top of the third, H&V came up with three in bottom of the inning to take its only lead of the night. KJ Churchill led off with a triple to the opposite field before scoring on Nathan Bowolick’s 587th career sacrifice fly to tie the game. Jon Gendron then tripled to the left centerfield gap before coming home on a Carroll fly out. Singles by Shawn Herrick and Perry Delisle put runners on the corners and Bazillion delivered a clutch two-out hit to give H&V a 5-3 advantage,
Devens Grille came back to tie the game in the fourth with two runs of their own. Derek Migrants led off the inning with a home run that took roughly two seconds to cover 400 feet, to cut the lead in half. A pair of errors, sandwiched around a walk allowed another run to score to tie the game at 5-5.
While “The Kid” settled in on the mound for Devens Grille, allowing only two hits over the final four innings, the bats continued to come through. Migrants keyed a two-run, two-out rally in the fifth with a double and run scored as the Devens Grille took the lead for good at 7-5.
Things continued to get worse for H&V as Devens Grille continued to add two-out runs. After a solo homer to lead off the sixth made it 8-5, H&V starter Don Maki got consecutive fly outs to put two away, but Pinard and Camblin came up with consecutive singles and a wild pitch moved them both into scoring position. Terrance Durden then grounded a single up the middle, scoring both runners and making it 10-5.
In the top of the seventh, Devens Grille put the cherry on top of the sundae with a six spot. Migrants led off the inning with a home run to the opposite field, making him roughly 9 for 10 with six homers in the series (all numbers approximate) to make it 11-5. Welch and Pinard added RBI singles while a pair of H&V errors led to three runs as it was now 16-5. “The Kid” Jeff Labell worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh as Devens Grille moved to within one win of their second title in three years.
Camblin led Devens Grille with a perfect day at the plate, collecting five singles while scoring three runs and driving in two. Migrants finished with two homers, a double, an intentional walk (better late than never), three runs scored and two RBI. Welch had three singles, two runs scored and an RBI while Pinard chipped in two singles, two runs scored and two RBI.
Tim Churchill was the lone H&V player with multiple hits, collecting two singles. Carroll had a triple, run scored and RBI while Bazillion had a single, run scored and an RBI.