Pittsfield stops North Adams to claim state title
NORTH ADAMS -- Twice before this group of Pittsfield Babe Ruth All-Stars had reached a Western Massachusetts State championship game, only to come up a game shy of claiming the title.
As 15-year olds, it was their last chance, and the Pittsfield squad made the most of it by beating North Adams 10-6 in the title game Wednesday night at Alcombright Field.
"We had always made it to the state championship. After last year's loss to Leominster, we knew we had to come back harder than ever," Pittsfield's Kevin Squires said.
Squires pitched four innings in relief of starter Alex Weber and got credit for the win. He retired four of the last five batters he faced, getting Cody Crosier on a game-ending ground out.
"This is our first regionals. We've been to the state finals three years in a row," Pittsfield catcher Austin Houghtaling said. "Third time's the charm."
Pittsfield now advances to the New England championship tournament that will be held in Newtown, Conn. Pittsfield's first game will be on Saturday, Aug. 3, at noon against the Maine state champion.
Pittsfield took an early lead against the tournament hosts, but gave up five runs -- four unearned -- in the fourth and fifth innings as North Adams charged back and took the lead. Shane Garvey's two-run single to center off of Squires plated Schuyler Robinson and Kareen Becket to give North Adams a 6-5 lead after five innings.
"It was a real pendulum wasn't it? The highs and the lows. You had some big errors," said Pittsfield manager Jim Conant. "The momentum all went their way, and almost as quick as it went their way, it came back our way."
That's an understatement.
Chris Tracy led off the Pittsfield sixth with an infield single and took second on a throwing error by shortstop Brodie Altiere. Tracy scored when Alex Weber singled to center, tying the game. Weber went all the way to third when Beckett's throw from center field sailed to the backstop. One out later, Squires hit a 1-2 pitch to left, plating Weber with the go-ahead run.
"I was thinking curve ball all the way and he threw me a curve ball," said Squires. "He left it letter-high. He hung it in there and I just put it in the hole."
Pittsfield wasn't done as two batters later, Houghtaling hit a two-run single to make it 9-6 and a wild pitch by reliever Altiere brought Nate Stump home with the 10th run.
North Adams got a one-out double from Logan Rumbolt in the bottom of the sixth, but Rumbolt was caught in a rundown trying to get to third. Then in the seventh, Beckett hit a two-out double to right. He was left stranded there when Crosier grounded to shortstop Nick Rufo to give Pittsfield the
"They didn't give up and we didn't give up," North Adams manager Joe Altiere said. "They made some [errors] that let us back in the game and then we went and gave it right back to them."
Neither teams' pitchers were particularly sharp. Pittsfield pounded out 11 hits against Robinson and Altiere, while North Adams had 10 hits against Weber and Squires.
Squires said he was expecting to pitch in the game, but was surprised that he came in after Weber walked the first two hitters in the fourth inning.
In four innings, Squires did give up five hits, but none of the runs charged to him were earned.
"To fill Alex's spot, he did tremendous," Houghtaling said of Squires. "He was throwing his fastball and curve ball. His curve ball was on tonight."
Weber helped his cause by going 2 for 5 with two RBI, and Dan Carroll was 2 for 4. Beckett had a 3 for 3 night and scored three of North Adams' runs. Garvey had two hits and three RBI.
Pittsfield 040 105 0 -- 10 11 3
NA 010 320 0 -- 6 10 6
Alex Weber (3+), Kevin Squires (4) and Austin Houghtaling. Schuyler Robinson (5 1/3), Brody Altiere (1 2/3) and Cody Crosier. W -- Squires. L -- Robinson. 2B -- P (Weber); NA 2 (Logan Rumbolt, Kareen Beckett) 3B -- P (Chris Tracy).