BRISTOL, CONN. >> With two outs in the top of the ninth, Pittsfield Post 68's season hung in the balance. South Portland, Maine had the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, and starter Sam Fick had already thrown over 100 pitches in the early afternoon sun. Pittsfield manager Pat Bassi took a trip to the mound after Fick allowed the second straight batter to reach base, but he did not intend to pull Fick — he said the quick chat was just to give his pitcher a breather.
"He worked too hard. It was his game to win," Bassi said. "When I went out to talk to him I said, 'you've got to do your job. Just do your job. That is all.'"
And Fick did just that, using a fastball to freeze No. 3 hitter Nate Ingalls for the strikeout, clinching a 3-2 win on Thursday at Muzzy Field. The win sets up a 4:30 p.m. matchup Friday against an opponent to be determined.
Fick, the former Pittsfield General, had never pitched a nine-inning game, but a couple quick innings and pure adrenaline carried him the distance.
"At first it was kind of hard because I had some slow innings and I had to get out of some jams," he said. "After I started getting into a rhythm and sitting guys down more often, it just came natural. I didn't really feel like I threw nine innings."
Fick helped close the door and extend the season at least one more game, but it was Matt Schneider that provided the winning run in the eighth inning. Trailing 2-1, the Assumption College commit entered the at-bat in an 0 for 10 slump. However, after Jack Cooney led off with an infield single and Matt Koperniak drew a walk and the runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball, Schneider drove a fastball from Maine starter Sam Troiano into left-center field for a two-run double, putting Pittsfield ahead for good.
"I've been struggling a lot lately, but my teammates were keeping me up," Schneider said. "I give a lot of credit to them. ... I found a pitch to drive and it found the gap. It was great."
Post 68 left six runners on base before Schneider's clutch hit. South Portland outhit Pittsfield 10-6 for the game, and Pittsfield's slow start made Fick's complete game even more impressive.
Maine's first three batters of the game reached base with singles, setting up an RBI 6-4-3 double play. Ben Conti's bases-loaded walk in the third plated their final run, before Fick found his groove.
Brett Murphy scored Pittsfield's first run in the fifth, reaching base after being hit by a pitch. Abdiel Cotto-Hernandez moved Murphy over with a bunt. Chad Shade's infield single moved Murphy to third and he scored on Cooney's RBI groundout. Shade was 2 for 4 with two steals.
This year's team did not enter the tournament as state champions, but they've advanced as far in the Regional tournament as last year's team. Even with a large roster turn over, the state runner-ups are sporting an identical 27-4 record at this point of the season.
"That's quite an accomplishment for a young team," Bassi said of the team's season so far. "I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow and we'll go from there."
Sam Troiano (7+), n/a (1) and Matt Riggle. Sam Fick and Matt Schneider. W — Fick. L — Troiano. 2B — P 1 (Schneider).
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252