Photo Gallery | Great Barrington wins Little League District I Championship
ADAMS -- Kenny Zucco didn't have a lot of time to think about getting the start for Great Barrington in Saturday's Don Gleason District 1 Little League 11-12 title game. But that didn't mean he wasn't a little nervous.
"I was shaking really bad and my hand was like throbbing," Zucco said after learning just before game time he would start in place of Graham Herrick, who had a pulled muscle in his left leg.
Pressed into action on the mound, Zucco settled in to pitch five shutout innings before giving way to Herrick because of the pitch-count rule. Herrick, despite the leg problem, pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth as Great Barrington beat Pittsfield South 1-0 in the title game at Beaver Bard Park.
"It's really exciting" to win, said Herrick. "We hadn't won and we came up here and lost and lost. We were kind of the underdog coming up here. I was really excited to win."
Max Joyner's pop fly to shortstop allowed Jack Carpenter to tag up and score a first-inning run, the game's only tally.
The win puts a South Berkshire team in the sectional tournament for the first time since Sheffield reached it in 2002. It also ended a streak of eight consecutive District 1 titles for Pittsfield South.
"It's really big to our community," Great Barrington manager Sam Herrick, Graham's father, said. "Despite people needing to come here in the midst of a beautiful Saturday and drive up here, we had a lot of people from our community come up and support us. It was important."
Graham Herrick was originally scheduled to start, but the leg was giving him some issues. He moved to first, the Great Barrington coaches moved players around, and Zucco ended up on the mound.
"It took me about a batter or two to calm down," the right-hander said. "Then I started getting in the groove and just started [getting] people out. Our whole team played good in the field."
The only run scored right off the bat. Carpenter walked on a 3-2 pitch by Jett Steinman. A wild pitch moved Carpenter to second. He then took third on Herrick's ground out to second and scored on Joyner's pop fly.
Great Barrington left runners in scoring position in three different innings while Pittsfield South had runners in scoring position twice, including loading the bases in the sixth.
"Both teams have really good pitching staffs and even though the kids pounded the zone, both teams made great defensive plays," Pittsfield South manager Dave Zerbato said. "This is what we expected. One or two runs would decide it."
As the designated home team, Pittsfield South had the last at-bat. Leo Arace led off with a walk for Zucco's final hitter. Herrick came in and got David Mansfield on a liner to Carpenter at second. After Zak Bernardo walk, Christian Marchbanks grounded out and Zack Zerbato was hit to load the bases. Taea Bramer grounded back to the mound for the final out.
"I was just hoping I didn't feel any pain, because if I did, that wouldn't be good," said the relief pitcher. "It was one of those pains where you could pitch or you couldn't because you couldn't fight through it. I was excited I could."
Great Barrington 100 000 -- 1 4 0
Pittsfield South 000 000 -- 0 4 1
Kenny Zucco (5+), Graham Herrick and Max Joyner. Jett Steinman and Christian Marchbanks. W--Zucco. L--Steinman. 2B--GB 1 (Joyner). PS 1 (Zack Zerbato).
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On Twitter: @howardherman.