Pittsfield rolls to Babe Ruth 14s win
LEOMINSTER -- A little revenge was in order for the Pittsfield 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars.
After Leominster squeaked by with a one-run victory to advance to the semifinal round, Pittsfield turned the tables in the rematch on Wednesday.
The visitors utilized two huge innings to secure the Western State championship over Leominster in a 17-0, five-inning mercy-shortened victory Wednesday at McLaughlin Park.
"We didn't play well today," Leominster manager Pat Malone said. "We were beat in every facet of the game and just didn't get it done. The kids played seven baseball games, won six in a row, including beating Pittsfield last week, but we had a bad day all around. You can't pin it on anybody; it was just a letdown today."
Pittsfield advances to the New England Regional, which begin Friday in Westfield. This 14-year-old group has some experience in the regionals, as the majority of the team made it last season as 13-year-olds.
"Yesterday, we played a tough Westfield team," Pittsfield manager Pat Tierney said. "I think that kind of vaulted us, after losing to Leominster the other day. Today, we put a little bit more pressure on their defense, as far as putting the ball in play. We didn't have as many strikeouts today as we did the other day. They had a couple miscues which we took advantage and just rode on from there."
Three errors in the first inning hurt Leominster and allowed Jack Scarafoni (3 for 5, 4 RBI) not only to reach, but to score the first run of the game.
After a quiet second inning, Pittsfield batted around in the third. Scarafoni singled to start the inning, before scoring on a wild pitch. A strikeout with a dropped third strike and two walks loaded the bases, and with two outs Matt Stracuzzi sliced a two-run shot to center to make it 4-0. Shane McMahon continued the two-out damage when he connected on a double to left, making it a comfortable 6-0 lead.
Pittsfield added a little bit more insurance in the top of the fourth when Scarafoni reached on an error and scored on a second error to make it 7-0.
The Leominster offense was waiting to string together a stellar rebuttal and its best chance came in the bottom of the fourth, with the game quickly fading out of reach. Peter Fitzgerald started the inning on a promising note, by reaching on an infield hit and one out later, Zak Merchant reached on a fielder's choice.
Two batters after that, Connor Edmands walked to load the bases but Pittsfield pitcher Ryan Abel kept his cool, striking out the final batter of the inning to end the threat. Abel pitched a complete game-shutout allowing four hits, two walks, and striking out three.
"[Abel] did a wonderful job," Tierney said. "This is the first time he's pitched for us this year, and I don't think we used him on the 13-year-old team last year. He threw strikes all day and that's what these guys have to do and our defense played well behind him."
The blown opportunity in the bottom of the fourth, spelled disaster for Leominster a half inning later. Two walks and an error loaded the bases and Scarafoni connected on a two-run single to extend the lead to nine. An infield hit reloaded the bases, then Simon Nassif connected on a two-run single to center.
Abel helped his own cause next when he hit a flare to centerfield to make it a 12-0 lead.
In the second time around in the frame, Austin Cancilla drove in an run on a single to right and an infield error plated two more. Scarafoni completed the scoring with a two-run knock on a flare to center field.
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