PITTSFIELD -- The road to the Berkshire County American Legion baseball title just got a little clearer for North Adams Post 125.
Robert Jutras tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout, struck out nine and received a post-game shower of ice and water from a cooler after North Adams beat Post 68, 7-0 Wednesday at Clapp Park.
"I had good defense behind me and I felt all right, and we got the ‘W,' " Jutras said. "We were hitting the ball too. That took a lot of pressure off of me."
Post 125 erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh on four hits and two costly errors.
With the win, North Adams advances to the Berkshire County championship. North Adams will host the championship game on Saturday with the "if" game on Sunday.
Post 68 will need to win one more game to earn the right to play North Adams in the championship. Post 68 will play Friday against an opponent to be determined.
"The first game of the season, we played them and Robert came in shut them down," said North Adams head coach Bob Rumbolt. "In the playoffs, I'll come back with him and his performance was better this time. I call it stellar."
Jutras' first three innings were pictures of efficiency. The right-hander faced nine batters, retired all nine and threw only 30 pitches in those innings. He had an eight-pitch first and a six-pitch second. Unofficially, Jutras had an 83-pitch night.
The former Drury pitcher retired the first
"My changeup wasn't [working] for sure. My fastball was. Slayter [Aubin] called a good game, and I had fun," said Jutras.
Jutras made it rough on the slightly-undermanned Post 68 team. Post had only six baseballs leave the infield all night. In fact, the last Post 68 player to hit a ball to the outfield was Corey Decker, who flied to Zack Larabee in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"I don't want to take anything away from him. He did a hell of a job," Post 68 head coach Jim Mazzer said. "He had my guys off stride the whole night."
And for six innings, Post 68 starter Peter Gregory wasn't quite matching Jutras pitch for pitch. He was, however, keeping Post 68 in the game.
"I give Peter credit for giving me seven innings and keeping it close for the whole game, up until the last inning," said Mazzer.
North Adams got on the board in the first inning on three consecutive singles to start the game. Tanner Bird's RBI base hit plated Chase Preite.
Gregory got out of the jam by getting Alex Bush to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. From there, the right-hander retired eight straight until walking Corey Meczywor with one out in the fourth.
North Adams got another run in the fifth. Aubin walked on four pitches and was forced at second by Zach Larabee. Larabee stole second and scored on Preite's single.
"We didn't want [Gregory] to get in a groove," said Jutras. "We got on him a little early and that took a little pressure off me."
Any suspense was eliminated in the seventh inning with North Adams' five-run explosion. Bird drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly while Jutras and Meczywor both had RBI singles.
Preite and Jutras each had two hits for North Adams.