PITTSFIELD >> Pittsfield baseball coach Seamus Morrison had one more trick in his bag, and it almost worked.
The bases were loaded with two outs when Morrison had Quinn Matthews try to steal home in the top of the seventh inning. He slid past Taconic catcher Brett Murphy's tag and by home plate, but Murphy applied a tag before Matthews could touch home. That helped preserve the Braves' 4-3 win over their city rivals Saturday afternoon at Clapp Park.
"I was shocked," Taconic starting pitcher Izaiya Mestre said, when asked about Matthews' break for home.
"I had a curve ball in me, and then I had to switch up and throw it like how I play shortstop," said Mestre, who threw a five-hitter and struck out seven.
That play took center stage because of Taconic's three-run sixth. The Braves got a two-run triple off the bat of Deonte Sandifer, who was thrown out at home trying for the home run.
The win improved Taconic's record to 2-0 while Pittsfield dropped to 0-2.
"There were a lot of sloppy things on our part," Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said, "that we'll clean up. That's for sure."
The Braves committed a pair of errors to start the top of the seventh. Griffin Manns reached on one and Matthews was awarded first on catcher's interference. Shane Tierney, who successfully put down a two-strike sacrifice bunt that led to Pittsfield's second run, beat out a bunt to load the bases.
Mestre retired Jordan Nassif on a ground out, plating Manns from third, and Sam Fick struck out. After walking Simon Nassif intentionally, Puia was down 0-2 in the count when Matthews took off for home.
"He put [the ball outside] and I put the tag on him. That was the end," said Murphy. "At first, I was a little shocked. The chemistry with Zeke, I know where he's putting it."
Morrison said that it'll be a learning experience for Matthews and the Generals.
"If you don't touch the base, you have to go back and touch it, or if the umpire doesn't make a call, you've got to touch the bag," said the PHS coach. "With the way we're shaping up this year, speed, pitching and defense is our strong point. We have to take extra bags. We have to be aggressive. We have to put the pressure on other teams."
Taconic did its damage the inning before, scoring three runs with two outs. There were two outs when Cedrick Rose and Murphy both singled. Rose came around to score on Abdiel Cotto-Hernandez's opposite-field single. Sandifer also went the other way, lining a 1-2 pitch over the head of left fielder Scott O'Brien. Murphy and Cotto-Hernandez scored easily, but PHS catcher Austin Houghtaling tagged Sandifer out at home trying for the home run.
Mestre, who hadn't pitched since the rainout at Hoosac two weeks ago, pitched out of jams in all but one inning. He retired the side in order in the sixth. Otherwise, Pittsfield had runners on base in six innings and the Generals left runners in scoring position five times.
Murphy said Mestre's slider was on target all day, and Mestre said he was happy with his performance.
"I could have thrown it for more strikes," said Mestre. "It got them, so I guess it worked."
Murphy had two of Taconic's six hits against Fick, while Tierney had two hits for Pittsfield.
"It's going to be like that all season," Houghtaling said. "They're a great team and they're going to definitely go far.
"We just didn't get the timely hits, didn't put hits together to score runs. They scored when they needed to and we didn't."
Sam Fick and Austin Houghtaling. Izaiya Mestre and Brett Murphy. W—Mestre. L—Fick. 2B—P: Shane Tierney. 3B—T: Deonte Sandifer.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.