WESTFIELD -- The first two innings hadn't been very easy for Isiah Provencher.
The Pittsfield South Little League pitcher had given up a run in each and Westfield South was threatening again with runners on second and third with one out. Pittsfield was up a run in a tense Section 1 championship game.
"I was like, ‘I just need to get out of this inning,' " Provencher said. "I know my team is going to score runs for me. I just need to help my team out with my pitching."
He did just that, striking out the next two batters to end the third. Pittsfield was in control the rest of the way, beating Westfield South 9-2 Saturday afternoon at Westfield's Cross Street Field.
The win pushes Pittsfield to the state tournament starting Thursday at Worcester's Joe Schwartz Little League. It'll be South's first appearance at the state level since 2007.
"It feels great," said Pittsfield manager Ty Perrault. "Our hitting has kept us in all these games. Then when we play great defense like we did today, that's what puts us over the top."
It all started with Provencher, who struck out nine in 51 3 innings. He kept Westfield off the board after the second inning, allowing his teammates to rack up eight unanswered runs. Most of those came off the bat of shortstop Drew DeMartino who had a three-run home run to center in the fifth to go along with a go-ahead two-run double. He finished with five RBI on the day.
Westfield played without its best hitter and starting catcher, Jack Yvon, who injured his wrist on Thursday. The hosts could've used some extra offense on Saturday, especially after that second inning. Westfield had only two hits the rest of the way, and just one of those off Provencher, who had taken the loss against Westfield earlier in the tournament.
"He was a tough pitcher," said Westfield manager Mike Raposo. "I give him credit. He really bounced back from that first game and really gave us his best I think today. We ran into a good team."
That third-inning bailout was exactly what Pittsfield needed to power its way into the state final four.
"He reached back a little bit and his fastball was working today. That was his pitch," Perrault said. "He took matters into his own hands there and got us out of it. From there, everything turned our way."
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