Thursday August 23, 2012

VAN BUREN, Ark. -- The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Stars will open Babe Ruth World Series single-elimination play tonight at 6:30, having earned the No. 2 seed in their pool Wednesday.

Pittsfield finished National Division pool play with a 4-0 win over Kelso, Wash., at the Field of Dreams complex. Pittsfield was 3-1 in pool play. Kelso also qualified for single-elimination competition as the third seed in the National Division.

Alex Carusotto was Pittsfield's player of the game, pitching a complete-game two-hit shutout while striking out four Kelso hitters.

Carusotto was so good, in fact, that Pittsfield manager Bob Shade didn't even consider going to his bullpen.

"Not even once," Shade said. "Nobody warmed up. [Alex] had great rhythm, he was hitting the zone and we never even thought of it."

Pittsfield's regular second baseman, Carusotto had been ready to pitch as far back as the New England Tournament in Quincy, but he didn't get to the mound.

"We haven't pitched him in this tournament, but he threw a gem," Shade said. "He had been having some problems with his control, but we have looked at him in the bullpen and we thought he looked good. His command was great. He could throw his pitches when he wanted to and he stayed around the plate and worked the outside edge."

Pittsfield could have thrown Steve Witkowski on Wednesday, but Pittsfield pitching coach Buddy Pellerin told Shade that Carusotto had been throwing well in bullpen sessions. Witkowski will start on the mound today.

The New England champions took advantage of four Kelso errors, scoring three times in the second inning to take the lead for good.

With one out and the bases loaded in the top half of the inning, Pittsfield's Andrew Winston hit a two-run double to left field. A passed ball later in the inning led to another run.

"Today, we went with some guys who hadn't had much playing time yet, and they all did great," Shade said.

Pittsfield scored again in the third, as Mitch Clary got an infield single and advanced on a Dom Traversa single. Clary then stole third, and scored on an overthrow on the play.

The official single-elimination brackets were not available at press time. Niskayuna (N.Y.) earned the top seed from the National Division with a 4-0 record. Over in the American Division, Southeastern Lexington (Ky.) and Brazoswood (Tex.) both had 3-1 records and Hi-Tower (Minn.) was 2-2.

"There has been some great competition in this tournament, like we knew it would be," Shade said. "We were able to rest our pitching a little bit and we are looking forward to the next level."

The Southwest (Ark.) Times Record contributed to this article.