2018-19 The Berkshire Eagle All Stars: Baseball

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Christian Womble, Taconic, senior

A repeat selection, Womble's bat and arm helped Taconic win its second MIAA state baseball championship in three seasons and its third consecutive Western Massachusetts championship.

The senior was Taconic's No. 1 starter, and he was 11-0 with two saves. One of the 11 wins was a relief appearance. He also recorded one no-decision.

He recorded eight multi-strikeout games, including a 10-strikeout performance in the Western Mass. Division III championship win over Wahconah and 12 in the win over Medway that clinched the state D-III championship. The right-hander finished the season with 119 strikeouts, and 206 for his career. That's a pretty impressive number, considering he was only a two-year varsity player.

Womble's earned-run average over the season was 0.66.

In the post-season, he won all three of his starts, and the only earned run he gave up in 21 innings was on a base hit by Medway's Matt Kaplan in the sixth-inning of Taconic's 4-1 victory.

Offensively, Womble was nearly as impressive. The right-handed hitter batted second in the order and finished with a .453 batting average. He had six multiple-hit games and had four games with multiple runs batted in. He had three home runs, four doubles and five triples. The five triples led the team.

Defensively, he was very athletic on the mound. It was demonstrated twice in the state final, where he robbed Medway's Sam DiPillo of a hit with a catch of a hard ground ball up the middle. Later, Womble fielded a swinging bunt by Matt Mueller by the third-base line, and threw the runner out at first.

Pitcher of the Year

Anton Lazits, Taconic, sophomore

Taconic doesn't win a state championship without Christian Womble. It is also fair to say that the Braves don't win the state championship without Anton Lazits.

The sophomore stepped into the No. 2 starter's spot in coach Kevin Stannard's rotation this year. Not only did he look like he belonged in that position, on most other teams in Western Massachusetts, Lazits would be the No. 1 pitcher.

He was 7-1, with a 0.74 earned-run average. In 56 innings, Lazits recorded 77 strikeouts.

The high-water mark for strikeouts came in the Western Mass. Division III semifinal, when Lazits struck out a career-high 16 batters in a 5-1 win over Southwick. He struck out six straight batters twice in the game. The second time came in the sixth and seventh innings. He gave up a leadoff single in the sixth and the runner got to third on a stolen base and an error. But Lazits recorded three strikeouts to end the inning, and then struck out the side in the seventh to clinch the victory that sent Taconic to the D-III championship game against Wahconah.

Lazits wasn't just a pitcher. He finished with a .400 batting average and a team-high 34 runs batted in. He had 10 doubles and three home runs, including one in the Western Mass. championship game against Wahconah.

Offensive Player of the Year

Carter Matthews, Pittsfield, senior

Look up the term "table setter" in any baseball dictionary, and a picture of Carter Matthews might just be there.

The Pittsfield High School center fielder hit .420 in 2019, and scored 29 runs.

If Matthews got on base, one could almost put him on second. Out of 17 stolen-base attempts, the senior was caught one time.

Matthews had 12 multiple-hit games, and had five games where he scored more than one run.

Pittsfield's 19-3 overall record and trip to the Western Mass. Division I tournament did not come by accident. A group of seniors, who came along as underclassmen, helped Pittsfield get to that spot. Matthews was one of those key seniors.

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He also pitched for PHS, and finished up with a 3-0 record, and one no-decision. He also had three big appearances in relief.

Defensive Player of the Year

Bo Bramer, Taconic, freshman

One only has to go back to Saturday's state championship game to see why defense is so important in baseball.

Taconic held a somewhat precarious 2-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning against Medway. Christian Womble had been dealing. But on an 0-2 count, Medways' Troy Newman hit a ball toward the gap in left-center field, that might have led to disaster.

It was an exciting play, but Taconic center fielder Bo Bramer made the running, back-handed grab, to rob Newman of what would have likely been a triple.

The catch turned out to be even more important because, one out later, a pair of walks and an RBI single had cut Taconic's lead to 2-1. Had Bramer not come up with the ball, Medway might have had a big inning, and perhaps even stolen the state championship away.

With a one-two in the rotation like Womble and Anton Lazits, one doesn't always think of defense. But pitchers don't strike out every hitter. They need the help of the players behind him.

In Taconic's recent round of success, which includes three Western Mass. championships, coach Kevin Stannard and his staff have been fortunate to have outstanding defensive center fielders who could cover a lot of ground. Bramer is the latest of that crew.

Bramer, who made one error in a 21-3 season, demonstrated his arm and his smarts in the Western Mass. Division III championship game.

Taconic led 2-1 in the fourth when, with runners on first and second and one out, Wahconah's Tanner Hill doubled to left. The double scored one run, but Bramer got to the ball quickly, threw a perfect strike to the cut-off man, and Lazits fired home to get the runner at the plate.

Plays like that win championships.

Coach of the year

Seamus Morrison, Pittsfield

In the last 10 years, the Pittsfield baseball team had earned regular Western Mass. Division I tournament berths, but only one time in that decade, had the Generals been higher than a fourth seed.

In 2019, Seamus Morrison guided the Generals to a 18-2 regular-season record and a No. 2 seed in the 2019 tournament.

Pittsfield had the best winning percentage among the eight teams in the D-I field, the best record against tournament-qualified teams, which put Pittsfield in the No. 2 spot.

Getting that second seed also earned Pittsfield a first home game. The Generals had advanced to the Division I semifinals last year, having to play the first two games of the tournament on the road. There would be no such issue this year, because the Generals would be home for their first tournament game.

Not only had the Generals not been this high of a seed for more than 10 years, they lost that quarterfinal game in the 2015 season.

That didn't happen in 2019. Chicopee Comp came to Buddy Pellerin Field for the game, and Pittsfield took care of business early. The Generals scored eight runs on six hits in the third inning, and went on to beat the Colts 13-6.

Unfortunately for Pittsfield, the tournament run ended in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

The nucleus of the 2019 Pittsfield baseball team started playing at the same time Morrison started coaching. It was a gradual build to the 19-3 final record.

Morrison has 58 wins in four years, and is well on his way to a major coaching milestone.


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