BRISTOL, CONN. >> Shrewsbury starting pitcher Alex Black didn't have an overpowering fastball or a devastating breaking pitch, but the burly hurler consistently hit his spots and never let Pittsfield Post 68 hitters get solid contact off him. Black kept his approach going all game, twirling a no-hit shutout to lead Shrewsbury to a 2-0 win Friday at Muzzy Field. The loss eliminates Pittsfield from the American Legion Northeast Regional Tournament.
Black said familiarity with Post 68's players after facing them once in the state playoffs, in addition to having faith in his defense, allowed him to stay calm and complete the no-hitter.
"I got the chance to pitch against them in state playoffs, they're a very good ball club," Black said. "I knew what I had coming in here. ... I've got the best defense behind me. I wouldn't want to have anybody else behind me."
Black was three walks away from a perfect game, but Pittsfield only put one runner in scoring position.
As the game wore on, Post 68 coach Pat Bassi said it was frustrating to watch as Black hit his spots over and over again.
"When you're watching [Black] it's like poetry," he said. "He's like an artist throwing a pitch. He painted the corner and made kids hit it where they were just rolling over on outside pitches."
Black's impressive performance trumped a strong outing from Post 68 pitcher Patrick Colvin. Colvin was perfect through three innings, but Shrewsbury's hitters pounced when given a slight advantage. In the fourth, Adam Twitchell worked a 3-1 count before driving the next pitch down the left field line for a double. A sacrifice bunt, followed by Nick Martin's sacrifice fly allowed Twichell to score the winning run. Dillon Zona added an RBI single in the seventh.
Colvin threw all nine innings, allowing five hits and striking out two.
"The first double was a 3-1 fastball. I had to get it over, because I didn't want to allow a free base," Colvin said. "The seventh-inning run I fell behind, too. I was much better when I was on top, 0-2, 1-2."
Abdiel Cotto-Hernandez had the most success against Black, drawing two walks. Pittsfield created its biggest threat in the sixth after Cotto-Hernandez drew a one-out walk. Chad Shade replaced Cotto-Hernandez at first after grounding into a 4-3 fielder's choice. Jack Cooney followed with a walk and Shade stole third, putting runners on the corners. Matt Koperniak stepped to the plate, but he just got under the pitch, popping out to the shortstop and ending the inning.
After last year's emotional run to a state title while coach Jim Mazzer battled a heart condition, the group of older players was visibly upset as their season ended in Bristol. This year, the mood was somber, but players can take solace knowing the majority of the team returns. They'll lose Shade and Nate Stump, leaving three open spots for next year. Players such as Taconic's Hunter Brasie and Jake McNeice are two candidates to fill the open spots.
With the two-month grind of the American Legion season over, the players and coaches said they left Bristol as a close-knit unit.
"They've been the best summers," Colvin said. "Half of these guys I'd played against in basketball. We'd talk trash on the court and we didn't really like each other at first. But once you get to know them you become best friends."
That unity led to strong play and chemistry on the diamond. Bassi said playing as a team can win out over individual talent.
"I'm big on team chemistry," he said. "All the best teams you see have good chemistry, not necessarily the best players. .. This team has great chemistry.
Alex Black and Nick Martin. Patrick Colvin and Matt Schneider. W — Black. L — Colvin. 2B — S 1 (Adam Twitchell).
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252