Thursday August 9, 2012

QUINCY -- The smile on Steve Witkowski's face lit up Adams Field more than the lights that surround the baseball surface could.

"We're going to Arkansas. How about that?" Witkowski said after he pitched Pittsfield into the 15-year old Babe Ruth World Series.

The Pittsfield right-hander tossed his second one-hit shutout of the tournament and struck out 10 as Pittsfield beat Waterford (Conn.) 9-0 in the tournament's elimination game.

"We're going to Arkansas. That's all I can say. Everyone played. Everyone played their best, as you can see from 9-0 and 8-6," Witkowski said. "Everyone did great."

Witkowski was voted the tournament most valuable player for his two stellar pitching performances.

"This is huge. We've never been this far before," said Pittsfield's Mitch Clary. "It's huge for the city. It's really an exciting moment to come this far. It's been a long journey."

Pittsfield won the first game of the series. Joey Dewey made his tourney debut on the mound and gave up three runs, one earned, on four hits in four innings of work as the Berkshire nine earned an 8-6 victory. Devon Johnston pitched three scoreless innings of relief to get the save.

The next stop is the Babe Ruth World Series, which will be played in Van Buren, Ark., from Aug. 18-25.

As the Connecticut state champions left Quincy, they had to feel as if they were beaten as much as anything else. In two games, Pittsfield outscored Waterford 17-6 and out-hit them 17-13.

"You always want to win the first one because if you lose the first one, it gives [the other team] extra momentum," Waterford manager Kevin Irvine said. "Anything can happen in those type of games."

The "anything" that can happen in the nightcap was Witkowski.

Pittsfield manager Bob Shade said his right-hander threw his second one-hit shutout in as many games, and he struck out 10 in the opening win over Vermont.

"That's why he's carrying the MVP award around with him," Shade said with a laugh.

The right-hander set Waterford down 1-2-3 in the first inning on six pitches. He was obviously in a zone from the start.

"I had my defense behind me and Dom [Traversa] behind the plate -- the best catcher in the world," said Witkowski. "I'd throw a first-pitch fastball and I'd finish them off with a slider. I had them off balance."

At one point, Witkowski struck out five consecutive hitters. The only Waterford hit was an infield single by Kyle Chung in the third. Pinch-hitter Griffin Beaney did get what should have been a single to center in the seventh inning, but he suffered a leg injury and fell at the plate.

After a lengthy delay for an ambulance, Clay McKittrick reached on an error and Witkowski hit first-game losing pitcher Adam Goss. But Witkowski struck out the side to send Pittsfield off to Arkansas.

"We did everything" in the second game, said Shade. "We hit well. Stevie pitched well. Defensively we played well."

Pittsfield got all the runs it needed in the first inning. Kevin Donati led off with an infield single, beating the throw from shortstop Jesse Coates. After Chad Shade walked, Mitch Clary grounded into a fielder's choice, but Shade beat the throw to second to load the bases.

Dewey plated Donati with what proved to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly. Anthony Jones and Traversa followed with RBI singles to make it 3-0.

Pittsfield scored four runs in the third and two in the fourth to go up 9-0. Pittsfield batted around in the third.

Anthony Jones went 3 for 4 in the nightcap after going 1 for 3 in the opener. Traversa had two hits and two RBI in the championship game. His second RBI came when center fielder Griffin Archambault dropped a fly ball, so Traversa got credit for a sacrifice fly and an RBI, along with the E-8. Shade was 1 for 1 but walked three times, including a bases-loaded pass in the third.

Conner Lewis went 32 3 and took the loss for Waterford.

Dewey helped make the nightcap necessary. The right-hander had yet to pitch an inning in the tournament due to a sore right elbow. Shade said before the first game that Dewey said he wanted to give it a go.

"It's been hurting all week, but today it felt real good," Dewey said between games. "I wanted to pitch. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Dewey had a rocky first inning and was saved when Pat Latini caught Adam Goss' line drive and Latini doubled Tom Pezzolesi off second for the double play. Dewey didn't give up another hit until Jesse Coates' two-out single in the fourth.

Pittsfield went quietly in the first inning, but took the lead for keeps with three runs in the second. First-game MVP Traversa and Carusotto had consecutive RBI singles and Latini drove home the third run on a squeeze bunt that he beat out for a base hit.

Pittsfield added a run in the third and two in the fourth before Waterford got three back in the fifth. Insurance RBI by Carusotto and Johnston made it 8-3. Those runs proved to be important, because Waterford got to Johnston for three runs. Chung was the tying run, but he looked at strike three to end the game.

In addition to Witkowski, Donati, Clary, Shade and Jones were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Pittsfield manager was clutching the regional trophy and said he wasn't ready to put it all into perspective.

"I maybe have to go home tonight and wake up tomorrow morning to see if it was really real," said Bob Shade. "It's a great job."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.