'What ifs' haunt Pittsfield 15s in loss

Sunday August 5, 2012

QUINCY -- It was the kind of game that gave Pittsfield manager Bob Shade a what-if feeling.

"We can look at almost every one of their runs and say, ‘If we didn't do this or didn't do that,' " Shade said. "... You look back at all those things and say, ‘If we executed properly, didn't lose our composure, who knows? Maybe we don't lose that game.' "

Four errors and a balk helped Keene knock Shade's group into the losers' bracket of the Babe Ruth 15-year-old New England tournament with a 4-3 loss at Quincy's Adams Field on Saturday. Pittsfield now will face Coventry (R.I.) today at 4 p.m. in an elimination contest.

The Western Massachusetts champions got into trouble against Keene thanks to mistakes that Shade called "uncharacteristic" after a nearly flawless opening win over St. Johnsbury (Vt.) on Friday. Pittsfield committed errors in three straight innings, allowing Keene to score a run in each, eventually building a 4-0 lead. Pittsfield did rally for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, making those early mistakes a little more painful.

It was Devon Johnston's balk in the third that started scoring, allowing Zach Wullbrandt to come home.

"They said my glove went toward the plate so that caused the balk," Johnston said. "It shook me a little bit but I tried to keep my composure."

Johnston had been rock solid to that point, with Keene's only baserunner in the first two innings coming off an error in the second. Shade said he thought the balk did bother Johnston, who was lifted after walking the first batter in the fourth and reaching a 2-0 count against the second.

Pittsfield outhit Keene but the New Hampshire squad often got key hits that Pittsfield couldn't seem to generate. Shade's bunch wasted a chance to respond in the fourth, loading the bases off a hit, a walk and a hit batsman. Dom Traversa couldn't bring anyone home, grounding out to end the inning.

"Going through the innings, we were kind of popping everything up," said Pittsfield center fielder Chad Shade. "Our energy, it was down. It was tough for us to try to get back until that last inning."

Pittsfield did manage to score three in the seventh, including two off the bat of Shade. His bloop beyond first base scored Joey Dewey, who started the rally with a double, and Anthony Jones. Mitch Clary's popped out to short to end the game, though.

Pittsfield must now try to dig its way out of the losers' bracket. Bob Shade said it's not the ideal route, but at least his squad is still alive.

"You've got to throw this away," the manager said. "You can still win it but you have to go the long way. You don't take the turnpike. You got to take the bumpy road but you'll eventually, maybe get to the championship game if you work hard."


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