PITTSFIELD — Those in attendance at Deming Park on Wednesday night held apprehension towards a forecast of lingering thunderstorms and a tight showdown in the Babe Ruth 14s Western Massachusetts State Tournament.
Pittsfield hurler Roshan Warriar and Westfield’s Ethan Johnson went toe-to-toe, but one run was the difference as Pittsfield held on for a 1-0 victory.
“We’ve been working on how to keep focus and let things go,” Pittsfield Head Coach Dusty Burdette said. “We know how important it is to not dwell on anything and that helped us get to this 1-0 victory.”
Pittsfield’s ace tossed a complete-game shutout, surrendering only two hits and ringing up seven batters.
Warriar got the game’s first out on a flyout and then fanned the next two batters on off-speed pitches.
“I’ve always been a fastball [and] changeup type of guy, but this offseason I’ve been working on the curve,” Warriar said. “That helped me today.”
Pittsfield’s Ben Jacob laced a fastball towards second base to begin the bottom half of the first and reached on an error. Johnson struck out the next batter he faced before walking Warriar.
Now with two outs, Pittsfield executed a double steal, forcing an errant throw down the left-field line and allowing Jacob to score.
Jacob was the only runner to cross home plate, but each team had a slew of opportunities with runners threatening on the base pads. Westfield applied pressure in the sixth after Johnson crushed a pitch to left-centerfield for a double, prompting Burdette to visit the mound.
Following the visit, Warriar kept the ball low in the strike zone, resulting in two ground-outs. The first was back to him at the mound and the other was a diving effort by first baseman Anthony Freiri, which kept Johnson stranded at third base.
“The defense was incredible,” Warriar said. “They did more than I could ever ask of them.”
Pittsfield put the ball in play and runners reached base in the bottom half of the sixth, but a 4-3 double play by Westfield second baseman Robert Ninotti ended the frame.
Warriar sealed the game in the top of the seventh without any drama. He forced two groundouts before fanning the final Westfield batter on an inside fastball.
After not having an All-Star tournament in 2020, Pittsfield is building resilience and confidence.
“These kids have built a really strong chemistry together,” Burdette said.