WORCESTER -- In a game that started as a pitchers’ duel, the Pittsfield reserves entered and sparked a late-game rally, leading the 15-year-old All-Stars to an 11-1 mercy-rule win over Holden in six innings at Vernon Hill Park Sunday afternoon.
The win earns the team a Babe Ruth Massachusetts state championship and a trip to the New England Regionals in Manchester, N.H., starting Aug. 2.
Ryan Abel pitched a strong game on the mound for Pittsfield. The right-hander went six innings, scattered three hits with four strikeouts. He did not allow an earned run.
Holden starter P.J. Barry was chased after five innings. He allowed four runs on seven hits. Tom Feraco entered in the sixth, and Pittsfield tagged him for seven runs before the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule.
"I think we tired their first pitcher," Pittsfield manager Pat Tierney said. "We were having trouble with him early. He had a couple 1-2-3 innings off us, but he had a couple innings where he threw a lot of pitches. So I think he got tired."
Leading 4-1, Pittsfield’s Tino Burns entered in the sixth inning and started the rally by working Feraco into a nine pitch at-bat, drawing a walk. Kyle Hopkins and Ty Bramer also entered in the sixth inning, drawing walks as well. Bramer’s walk loaded the bases and set up Chad Supranowicz -- another substitute -- for an RBI single. to put Pittsfield up 5-1.
"Tino started the inning, fouled off a couple pitches and that really set the tone," Tierney said.
After Matt Stracuzzi’s RBI ground out, Jordan Nassif hit a two-run double. Jack Scarafoni added another RBI ground out before Shane Tierney’s two-run double ended the game.
"I stepped just up, took a minute to clear my head and went over what I needed to do," Burns said, when asked about his rally-starting at-bat.
While Pittsfield jumped on Holden pitching, Abel avoided being knocked around himself, escaping three different scoring threats.
In the third, Holden’s Jonathan Rubin and Tim Baker started the inning with singles. A wild pitch allowed both runners to move into scoring position, before Abel forced three straight pop outs to end the inning.
Abel pitched out of trouble again in the fourth and sixth as well, after walking two batters in each inning. Holden did manage a run in the fourth, when Feraco scored on a throwing error from Scarafoni.
"I give all the credit to my teammates," Abel said. "It was their defense. I don’t strike out a lot of people, so I rely on them."
Abel’s ability to throw his curveball for strikes kept the Holden batters off balance throughout the game.
"[Ryan] is a tough kid," Tierney said. "He doesn’t say much, you don’t hear his voice much. But he’s a quiet type of leader."
Offensively, Jordan Nassif led Pittsfield going 3 for 3 with three RBI and three runs scored. Scarafoni had two doubles and three RBI.
The win is the second Massachusetts State Championship for this group, as they won last year as 14-year-old All-Stars.
Holden 000 100 -- 1 3 2
Pittsfield 003 017 -- 11 10 1
P.J. Barry (5), Tom Feraco (0+) and Feraco. Ryan Abel and Shane Tierney. W -- Abel. L -- Barry. 2B -- Pittsfield 5 (Jack Scarafoni 2, Shane McMahon, Shane Tierney, Jordan Nassif).
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