Berkshire Eagle Staff
VAN BUREN, Ark. -- Pittsfield picked up a win and a loss in Babe Ruth 13-15 World Series pool play Tuesday afternoon, and has advanced to the single-elimination round which begins Thursday.
The New England Regional champions went ahead of Lumber River, N.C., for good with a three-run fifth inning, and held off the Southeast champs 7-4 at the Field of Dreams complex.
Pittsfield's day opened with a 10-9 loss to Niskayuna, N.Y., in the conclusion of a game suspended after eight innings Monday evening. Niskayuna is unbeaten in National Division pool play, and has also advanced to single-elimination play with the top spot in the pool. The top three teams in each five-team pool advance. Pittsfield is in with two wins, and holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over tournament host Van Buren.
"It was a hard loss, especially having to come back and lose in extra innings," Pittsfield manager Bob Shade said. "We knew we had to play again today, so we told everybody to take it easy. It's still a long tournament as far as we're concerned. The loss is what pool play's all about."
While Shade noted that it didn't take much to get Pittsfield going, he added that his team got some help from Lumber River's suspect defense.
"We're still looking to get some big, key hits," Shade said. "They helped us out a little. It looked like a snowball fight when they started throwing that ball around."
Pittsfield will finish pool play Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. EDT against Kelso, Wash. Kelso was scheduled to meet Van Buren later Tuesday night in pool play. If Kelso beats Van Buren, the winner of the Pittsfield-Kelso game will play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with the loser playing at 7:45 p.m.
Steve Witkowski, who pitched the seventh inning against Lumber River, could start Wednesday against Kelso. Shade said he will talk with his coaching staff, and they'll determine if Witkowski should pitch Wednesday or be saved for Thursday's elimination-round game.
"Devon [Johnston] has got some innings left; Alex Carusotto has been working in the bullpen," Shade said. "He hasn't pitched yet, but he could be a possibility as well."
Lumber River scored twice in the top of the sixth inning to draw within a run at 5-4, but Pittsfield answered quickly, scoring two insurance runs on a throwing error in the bottom half of the inning. Witkowski then pitched in relief to pick up the save.
Bobby New started for Pittsfield, and was solid into the sixth before being relieved. Johnston's two-out pickoff move caught a Lumber River runner in a rundown to end the sixth-inning threat.
"Just late in the game, I think [New] got a little tired," Shade said. "To [enter the game] in relief, I think it's different to know that you're starting. Bobby's used to starting; I think it's better for him mentally when he starts. He really kept us in the ballgame."
Johnston, who doubled to lead off the fifth inning and later scored, was named Pittsfield's player of the game.
For more, read Wednesday's Eagle.