Pittsfield West players crowd around Mike Kays as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against Pittsfield South during the District 1 Little
Pittsfield West players crowd around Mike Kays as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against Pittsfield South during the District 1 Little League 12-year-old tournament championship round. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Saturday July 14, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- It is said that hitting in baseball is contagious. If that is in fact the case, then the Pittsfield Myron Gray West Little League coaching staff has to hope that it stays that way for another 24 hours.

West broke open a close game by scoring nine runs in the third and fourth innings and batting around in both frames. The Myron Gray League 12-year old All-Stars then held on to beat Pittsfield South 10-6 in the District 1 championship Friday night at Springside Park.

"One through nine, these kids are amazing," West manager Rich LeVardi said. "They really believe in themselves right now. It's unbelievable. They feed off each other. They never get down. I have confidence in each and every one of them."

West pounded out 12 hits against three Pittsfield South pitchers. Four different batters had two hits each. None were as efficient as winning pitcher Jake McNeice, who was 2 for 3 with a pair of two-run home runs -- one in the third and another in the fourth. It was the second time in the tournament that McNeice hit two homers. He did it against Great Barrington earlier.

"Hitting is really contagious," said McNeice. "Once somebody starts hitting, we all just start hitting."

With the win, Pittsfield Myron Gray West has forced the "if" game, which will be played today at Springside at 4 p.m. The winner advances to play District 2 champion Westfield on Wednesday in Westfield. The second district game would be played at the home field of the District 1 champion.

For Pittsfield South, Friday was a story of what might have been. Starter Isiah Provencher retired the first five batters he faced, then Mike Kays hit the first pitch he saw out of the park to center. In West's five-run third, Provencher retired the first two batters before giving up a single to Brandon Peaslee on a 3-1 pitch. That was the first of six consecutive hits for West -- highlighted by McNeice's first two-run home run and an RBI triple by Cam LeVardi.

"One pitch or one play" away, South manager Ty Perrault said. "I watched them all five games in the tournament and I know they can hit. We really just have to make plays."

Pittsfield South had climbed back into the game with three runs in the top of the fourth to make it 6-3. A quiet inning would have helped, but West got to Provencher for four more runs on five hits. McNeice pulled a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left for his second homer of the game and third of the night for Pittsfield West.

Sitting three runs from a mercy-rule loss, South came back with three runs on four hits in the top of the sixth inning. Drew DeMartino hit a two-run homer and Cedric Jones followed up with a solo blast to make it 10-6.

South held West scoreless in the fifth and Joe Cracolici led off the top of the sixth with a single to left-center off reliever Peaslee. Peaslee set down the next two batters and when Jack Cooney flied to Jake Corcoran in center, West had its win.

Cracolici had three hits and drove in two runs for Pittsfield South. Ryan Harrison added two hits for a team that will play a winner-take-all game against a Myron Gray West team that has stormed out of the losers' bracket to play for the title.

"It really boosts our momentum," to have come out of the losers' bracket, said McNeice. "Winning this first game really brought our momentum up too."

To reach Howard Herman:

hherman@berkshireeagle.com,

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On Twitter: @howardherman