VAN BUREN, Ark. -- Southern California champion El Segundo pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning, then held on in the bottom of the frame to hand the Pittsfield 15-year-old Babe Ruth All Stars an excruciating 5-4 loss in the first round of the single elimination portion of the National Babe Ruth Tournament.
"It was a great journey," Pittsfield manager Bob Shade said after the game. "We were hoping it would come to an end on Saturday."
Pittsfield finishes with an overall record of 3-2 in the week-long playoff. It is the most wins ever by a local Babe Ruth team in Pittsfield's baseball history.
Chad Shade was voted the most outstanding player for Pittsfield in the game.
Pittsfield was the host team in this game, and held onto a 4-3 lead going into the top of the final inning. But El Segundo's Alex Rios drilled a double up the middle to open the seventh, and Rios later scored the tying run on a single.
Shade relieved Witkowski at that point, going with Joey Dewey. But a double by the speedy Nick Martinez gave the West Coast team the lead. Dewey got the final two outs to prevent any further scoring.
In the bottom of the inning, however, Pittsfield went down 1-2-3 to terminate it's playoff run.
"That was a very good ballclub that beat us," said Shade. "We felt El Segundo was a better team than either [Lexington] Kentucky or [Brazoswood] Texas."
Up until that inning, Witkowski had been pretty much in command. He gave up two runs in the first, including an unearned score, but settled down nicely after that. At one point, he set down nine of 10 El Segundo batters. He struck out four and walked one. His fastball was jamming the California hitters into weak pop-ups and soft grounders for most of the afternoon.
"He didn't get into a rhythm early. He settled down," Shade said of Witkowski. "When Stevie takes the mound, they're confident kids."
Trailing 2-0 after a half-inning, Pittsfield came back in the bottom of the frame. Kevin Donati led off with a single, and Chad Shade induced a two-base throwing error, to put runners at second and third. Mitch Clary's fielder's choice brought one run home. Shade then scored on a wild pitch, and it was tied.
In the bottom of the second, Dom Traversa doubled and scored on an error to give his team the lead, 3-2.
In the bottom of the third, Clary crushed a pitch to deep left center for a double. He came around on Devon Johnston's RBi grounder and the New England champs now led, 4-2.
The speedy Martinez led off the fifth with a triple to right. He scored on a single by Connor Underwood. But even at 4-3, Witkowski and Pittsfield seemed in control.
"We left too many people on base," the Pittsfield manager said. "We did it a lot in the tournament and survived it. Tonight, we didn't."