PITTSFIELD >> Fresh off an American Legion state championship and an appearance in the Northeast Regional, the Pittsfield Post 68 baseball team returns with a mix of old and mostly new faces looking to improve off last season.
Against Ludlow Post 52 on Friday, returnees Ethan Forfa and Chad Shade helped lead Post 68 to a 12-0 win in five innings.
Simon Nassif started the scoring with a bases-clearing triple in the first inning. Abdiel Cotto followed, plating Nassif on an error by the Ludlow third baseman.
Shade, one of only five returning players from last year's team, helped break open the game in second, hitting a three-run double in his second at-bat of the inning. Shane Tierney, Cotto and Brett Murphy also drove in runs during the inning, putting Pittsfield up 11-0.
Nate Stump's RBI single in the fifth inning ended the game due to the mercy rule.
For a team that used its speed and strong bunting ability to produce runs last season, starting off with a 10-hit performance is a welcome sight for coach Pat Bassi, especially with one of the top hitters in Western Massachusetts, Wahconah's Matt Schneider, preparing to play in a Western Mass. Division III final today. The team's depth gives Bassi plenty of options when setting the lineup.
"We have a lot of talented kids, so we want to get as many kids in the lineup as we can," he said.
Murphy and Schneider will split time behind the plate. Shade and Matt Koperniak bring speed to the outfield. Stump can also catch and play multiple spots in the infield. Lenox's Patrick Colvin — also preparing for a Western Mass. final in Division IV — can also play the outfield and pitch. Nassif brings some power to the lineup, and Tierney and Cotto are high on-base percentage players. It's hard to imagine the team's lineup improving without current Pittsfield Suns and University of Albany shortstop Kevin Donati, but the depth of the pitching staff could offset any drop in production from offense.
Forfa, a righty heading into his senior year, will be the team's go-to pitcher. He showed strong velocity against Ludlow, striking out nine and allowing only one hit against Post 52.
"I feel good, everything is working," Forfa said. "I'm hoping we've got a good team this year. We've got a lot of good additions like Matt Koperniak. We've got good players coming back like Colvin, I think we'll be good."
Pittsfield has several quality options behind Forfa, as Taconic's Izaiya Mestre, Sam Fick, Koperniak and Colvin were all aces of their high school teams.
One area the team is lacking, however, is experience. Shade (Cushing Academy) and Stump (Beloit College) are the only players with post high-school experience playing baseball. As the season progresses, Bassi said he expects his younger players to be tested.
"We're young and I'm sure we're going to face some older teams like we did last year," he said. "Sometimes experience beats young kids. But I think we'll be OK."
Jason Webb (1 1/3), N/A (3 2/3) and Daniel Valadas. Ethan Forfa and Brett Murphy. W — Forfa. L — Webb. 2B — P 1 (Chad Shade). 3B — P 1 (Simon Nassif).
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252