Taconic baseball upsets Westfield, reaches W. Mass. D-I semifinals
WESTFIELD -- The Taconic baseball team has accomplished something that a city team has been unable do in nearly a decade -- reach a Western Massachusetts Division I semifinal.
The 10th-seeded Braves needed extra innings, but they upset No. 2 Westfield 10-5 in eight innings to become the first team to reach the Division I semis since Pittsfield did it in 2006.
"That's incredible," said winning pitcher Alex Carusotto, who was 10 and playing in South Little League at the time. "That's a long time."
With the win, Taconic advances to Wednesday's semifinal against sixth-seeded Chicopee. The Pacers advanced with a 6-2 win over No. 3 Central. The Taconic-Chicopee game will be played at Westfield State University at 4 p.m.
"We're probably not the most talented team that's come out of Berkshire County," said Carusotto, who also got the win in Taconic's victory over Pittsfield last Thursday. "We're coming together at the right time and it's a great team to be a part of."
When Pittsfield lost to Chicopee Comp in the 2006 semifinals, Taconic went out in the first round. Since then, the Braves have gone no farther than the quarterfinals.
"It didn't hit us until we were on the bus going home," Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said after the team returned to Pittsfield. "For some reason, this team has played well in the last couple of weeks."
Leading 5-3 after 4 1/2 innings, the Braves surrendered two runs in the home fifth to tie the score. Westfield starter Brett Houle had an RBI single and the second run scored on a throwing error by Carusotto.
The Braves had a chance to go ahead in the top of the seventh, getting runners on first and second with two outs, but did not score.
In the eighth, Carusotto led off and reached on an error. After a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Winston, Mitch Clary was walked intentionally. Steve Witkowski's ground ball was booted and Carusotto came home with the go-ahead run. After Joey Dewey singled to load the bases, Kevin Squires plated two runs with a single and Dan Carroll followed with a two-run double.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Westfield's Jake Toomey singled but Carusotto struck Cody Nelig out to end the game.
"They've really been focused," said Stannard. "That's what we tried to get them to do all year."
In three innings of relief, Carusotto gave up one hit and struck out three. Offensively, Carroll was 4 for 5 with four runs batted in.
Taconic 014 000 05 -- 10 13 2
Westfield 300 020 00 -- 5 9 4
Joey Dewey (5), Alex Carusotto (3) and Kevin Squires. Brett Houle (2 1/3), Matt Irzyk (5 2/3) and Jake Toomey. W--Carusotto. L--Irzyk. 2B--T 2 (Dewey, Dan Carroll). W 3 (Craig Lacey 2, Chris Sullivan).
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