Sunday July 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In a Little League championship series where eight home runs were hit, a ball that didn't travel 46 feet decided the championship.

Isiah Provencher put down a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning that scored Cedric Rose from third with the winning run as Pittsfield South rallied to beat Pittsfield Myron Gray West 16-15 to clinch the District 1 championship on Saturday.

The "If" game was made necessary because West beat South 10-6 Friday night.

"We knew we weren't out of it because we're always a team," said Drew DeMartino, whose three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game at 15. "We always have pride. We play until the last out."

So did the guys from Myron Gray West. They had to play four games in four days coming out of the losers' bracket to force this final game.

"It was pretty easy" playing four days in a row, said West manager Rich LeVardi, "because we were on a roll. It wasn't hard at all. We just came up short."

Both teams were plagued by defensive lapses. Pittsfield South scored five runs in the fourth inning on just two hits and six West errors. South made three errors of its own.

DeMartino, who just missed hitting one out the inning before, launched his homer over the fence in right-center field. It was his second homer in as many days. Rose reached on an error and ended up on third thanks to a pair of wild pitches.

After Joe Cracolici reached first on an infield single, Provencher dropped the bunt on a 1-1 pitch. Reliever Jake Corcoran fielded the ball cleanly, but the tag was late and South won.

"Not really, because in the four games we played, I bunted three times. I was kind of nervous, because I didn't know if would get it down," Provencher said, when asked if he was surprised manager Ty Perrault called for the squeeze. "I didn't want to let my team down."

To say Provencher was excited would be an understatement.

"I was like ‘Yes,' because it was my dad's birthday today, too," Provencher said.

So, happy birthday, Sam Provencher.

"I knew he could get it fair and it was just a matter of what would happen," said Perrault, who also said South has now won seven consecutive district titles. "Bunts can cause damage. I thought it was the safest way to get that run home."

For a while, it didn't seem like a bunt was going to matter. West took a 3-0 lead on a three-run homer by Jake McNeice in the first inning and nursed the lead until South took a 11-10 lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. McNeice hit three homers in the two games.

Myron Gray West responded with five runs in the top of the sixth inning. Corcoran plated two runs with a double to right and Cam LeVardi added a two-run triple. That set the stage for the home sixth rally.

Perrault, who lost the coin flip on Friday, won it before Saturday's game. That gave South the last ups, to its advantage.

South loaded the bases with no outs when DeMartino stepped up. DeMartino just got under a ball the inning before that was caught at the fence. This time, he took a 3-1 pitch to right-center that cleared the fence and tied the game.

"I thought [the first one] was gone and then I saw him catch it. I was really mad," said DeMartino. "It was a middle out pitch and it was letter-high. I got the bat right on, and it just flew."

Corcoran had a big day for Myron Gray West, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a triple and five RBI. Cracolici was 3 for 4 with three RBI while DeMartino was 2 for 5 with three RBI. South's Jack Cooney was 1 for 1, but he scored four runs.

Pittsfield South will now play at the District 2 champion on Wednesday. Pittsfield South will return to Deming Field for a Thursday game.

While that goes on, the players and coaches of Pittsfield Myron Gray West can only think of what might have been.

"This one hurts," said the West manager. "It's going to hurt for a while."