WESTFIELD — The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-Stars had a tough night at Bullens Field, committing four errors. But that is not insurmountable if you can hit.
Unfortunately for the Pittsfield squad, hits were few and far between as Sarasota, Fla., pitchers Evan Gibbs and Cade Nelson held Pittsfield to just three safeties in an 8-1 pool-play win Sunday night.
"We've got to hit the ball much better than that, that's for sure," Pittsfield manager Steve White said.
Pittsfield didn't get its first hit until Christian Womble, voted the Pittsfield most valuable player in the game, reached on an infield single with two outs in the third. That came off of Gibbs, who got the win after giving up a run on two hits in 4 1/3 innings. Gibbs, a left-handed pitcher, walked three and struck out four.
Nelson relieved Gibbs in the fifth, gave up an RBI single to Womble and then retired the final six hitters he faced. Nobody got the ball out of the infield against the right-handed reliever.
"I didn't think their [starter] threw the ball really hard. I didn't think we were centering the ball," said White. "Again, we haven't hit well in this tournament at all. We're better than this."
Sarasota managed nine hits off of Womble and relievers Jett Steinman and Ryan LaPierre. The game was in reach for Pittsfield through six innings. But in the seventh, Sarasota scored four runs on four hits, with a two-run double to the warning track in left-center by Nelson the key hit.
That's four games in pool play, and Pittsfield still has yet to come up with a victory. Pittsfield will get one more chance Monday at 4:30 p.m.
"We want to win bad," said Pittsfield catcher Dylan Burke. "It's very important. I didn't want to come here and go 0-5.
"I wanted to make it past pool play, but obviously we couldn't do that. We just want to win one game."
While Womble, who went 2 for 3 with a run batted in, was voted the game's MVP, Burke had a pretty good night.
The catcher picked off Noah Scott off first in the fourth inning, a play that kept Sarasota from scoring more than one run. Then in the fifth, Owen Ayers took off for second and Burke threw a seed to the bag. Ayers stopped midway, was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out.
It was the first throw, however, that electrified the crowd and kept the score at only 3-0.
"I knew he was going to go halfway, so I told [first baseman Jake Harrington]. I was like, be ready," the catcher said. "I had to make something up, because I wasn't doing too good blocking the ball."
Sarasota got all the runs it needed in the first inning. Womble took an inning or so to get into gear as he walked the first two hitters and loaded the bases on Jakob Jackson's single. Nelson, who went 2 for 4 with three RBI, followed with an opposite-field single to right, plating Dylan Robertson.
Sam Miller, the Sarasota MVP who also went 2 for 4, struck out but on the first pitch to Jason Scott, the ball got behind Burke and Ayers came home with the second run.
It was 3-0 when Pittsfield got on the board in the home fifth.
Gibbs walked Burke and Zach Zerbato to open the inning. Gibbs struck out pinch-hitter Cole Lander, but when he threw a ball on the first pitch to Womble, Gibbs' night on the mound was finished.
Nelson came on, threw a ball to Womble and things got crazy on the next pitch. The Pittsfield leadoff hitter singled to center, scoring Burke. Zerbato was sent home and was thrown out on a strike from Miller in center field to catcher Robertson. Womble went to second on the throw and found himself hung out between second and third. He was tagged out in a rundown for the third out.
"I thought that was our inning," said White. "Unfortunately, a little bit of bad baserunning cost us.
"But they're 14 years old. It happens."
Evan Gibbs (4 1/3), Cade Nelson (2 2/3) and Dylan Robertson. Christian Womble (3), Jett Steinman (3 1/3) Ryan LaPierre (2/3) and Dylan Burke. W—Gibbs. L—Womble. 2B—S (Nelson).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.