Pittsfield Suns on 2014 season: 'None of us wanted to go home'
Some went to see family and friends. Some headed for the Hanover Insurance Park locker room and some just sat in the dugout, staring out into space.
"All of us wanted to be here. None of us wanted to go home," said Suns outfielder Gary Tesch. "We wanted to be here, we wanted to take it to the end and we wanted a ring.
"That's why it's probably so tough. None of us are excited to go home right now and Worcester is going to be here for another week. It's tough."
The Suns earned their way into the Futures League playoff semifinal round before losing the series with Worcester two games to none.
Pittsfield pushed the West Division champions into extra innings on Monday night before losing 4-3, putting a disappointing end on what turned out to be a historic summer of baseball at Wahconah Park.
Even if you take away the 50,000 fans who went through the gate at the old park on Wahconah Street, the Suns had numerous on-the-field firsts. The team was in first place for the first time ever, set a record with a seven-game winning streak, had the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game and won its first-ever playoff game.
"They gave their best effort," Suns manager Tom Conley said after the Bravehearts beat the Suns on Monday. "It was a fun summer."
For Steve Dill, the end of the season meant the end of a three-year stint with the Suns. The Harvard catcher even had his No. 25 retired by the team. Asked if he could put the season into perspective, Dill passed.
"I don't know if I can do that," Dill said. "It's been awesome. It [stinks] that it's over. I just want to thank everyone in Pittsfield for letting me do this for three years."
The Suns were 24-16 after beating Torrington on July 27. From there, the team dropped seven straight games before getting a walk-off win against Wachusett on Aug. 6, and beating Worcester the next night. The Suns stumbled into the playoffs as they dropped a twi-night doubleheader against North Shore.
"I was really excited about the roster we had coming into the year and I knew we had a chance to be really good, and we were," Conley said. "When everyone was here, I think we were the team to beat. Unfortunately, we had injuries and guys going home. For the most part, it played out and I couldn't have asked for anything more."
The Suns were down 12 players from their early-season roster. Most, like pitchers Jamin McCann and Brad Wilpon, left because of injuries. Pitcher Jacob Williams ran into an innings limit set by his college coaches at George Washington. Shortstop Dan Cellucci left the team to have surgery on his nose, while infielder Rob McLam gave it an early go, but left to continue rehabilitation on his knee that was injured in 2013 at Wahconah Park.
If there was a silver lining in the dark cloud of the elimination game, it was the pitching of former Taconic hurler Jordan Barbarotta.
The UMass-bound right hander had not pitched in a month when Conley called on the Blair Academy graduate to pitch the sixth inning with the Suns down 2-1. Barbarotta gave up a sixth inning run, but pitched a scoreless seventh to keep the Suns in the game
"It was the best he's looked all year," Conley said. "It's part due to his shoulder, that's why he was out for so long. It's not easy coming in a spot like this in the biggest game of the year and he did a great job.
"That's something he can take to school with him."
For the 2014 Suns, they can take with them a summer full of memories and the realization that they came close to moving on in the Futures League playoffs.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team. We were a great group of guys and had a lot of fun playing together," said catcher Dan Palazzo, whose two-run single Monday night tied the game at 3. "[The summer] flies by. Sometimes it feels like a year ago we started and sometimes it feels like just yesterday.
"The days go by slow, but before you know it we're here. It's the end of the season and we're saying good-bye to each other."
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