Dugan dazzles as Pittsfield 11s advance to Section 1 championship

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PITTSFIELD —Pitcher Konnor Dugan needed just eight pitches to retire the Holden offense in the sixth inning to lock up a 6-2 win for the Pittsfield American 11s in their first Section 1 tournament game on Saturday.

The inning was just a small sample size of the dominant performance Pittsfield's pitcher orchestrated in the win, as he finished with nine strikeouts, no walks and just four hits.

While his sweeping curve ball or his ability to consistently pound the strike zone could've been the secret to his success, Dugan's confidence is why he stood tall in the shut-down performance.

"He was as sharp as could be and was confident the whole day," coach Joe Skutnik said. "When he warmed up today I said 'How do you feel?' and he said he felt good and ready to go. He had everything going."

Pittsfield's ace needed only 19 pitches to retire the first six batters he faced while striking out three in the process.

"My teammates help by cheering me on throughout the game," Dugan explained. "It helps me go. I'm not really afraid on the mound — pitching is my thing."

Dugan remained level-headed on the big stage, partially because he is used to pitching in high-pressure situations. He struck out 12 in Pittsfield's victory in the District 9-11 championship.

"It is good to get into these pressure situations because as they get older they get used to it," Skutnik said. "We told them that each level it gets tougher and tougher, but I am proud with how they are handling themselves through it."

The 11s struggled to find the big hit offensively as they were held without an extra-base hit in the outing, but with the help of some smart base running, they set the tone early with a three-run first inning.

Sam Gyurjan reached on an error with one out and would eventually round the bases and score with the help of a couple passed balls to give Pittsfield the early 1-0 lead. Later in the frame, Matt Egan and Ryan Stannard would each beat out infield singles to plate Wes Willey and John Mullen, increasing the lead to 3-0.

"It is all about the preparation," Skutnik explained. "We harp on preparation. They have to be ready and know the situation. That is something we work on every single day."

Dugan took the mound in the top of the third and struck out the first two batters of the frame, but Holden had a little two-out magic in them. Travis Laidlaw ripped a double and lead-off hitter Michael Caliri followed with a single to make the score 3-1.

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The 11s wasted no time getting the run back, as Christian Barry singled to start the bottom half of the frame and would eventually score on a passed ball to make the lead 4-1.

Holden plated another run across in the top of the fourth as Zach Hoadley doubled and second basemen Ryan Flaherty scored in the process, cutting the lead to 4-2.

Again, Pittsfield had an answer in the bottom half. Gyurjan reached on a fielders choice and Willey sent him home with a hard-hit single for Pittsfield's fifth run of the afternoon.

"Every time they got one we got one back, which made me fell a little bit better," Skutnik said.

Barry would score his second run of the day in the bottom of the fifth as he started the inning with a walk and would later score on a passed ball, making the score 6-2.

Dugan took it from there, getting the 18th out with a strikeout as he retired the side in order during the sixth to finish off the complete game.

The 11s will next take the field on Monday at Deming Park for the sectional championship game, but their opponent will not be decided until Sunday's game between Holden and Agawam. Should either Holden or Agawam win on Monday, an if game is scheduled for Tuesday.

———

Holden     001     100     —     2     4     2

Pittsfield     301     11x     —     6     5     1

Ben Keevan (4 2/3), Ben Floyd (1 1/3) and Bryan Herlihy. Konnor Dugan and Christian Barry. W — Dugan. L — Keevan. 2B — H 2 (Travis Laidlaw, Zach Hoadley).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.

Pittsfield     301     11x     —     6     5     1

Ben Keevan (4 2/3), Ben Floyd (1 1/3) and Bryan Herlihy. Konnor Dugan and Christian Barry. W — Dugan. L — Keevan. 2B — H 2 (Travis Laidlaw, Zach Hoadley).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.

Ben Keevan (4 2/3), Ben Floyd (1 1/3) and Bryan Herlihy. Konnor Dugan and Christian Barry. W — Dugan. L — Keevan. 2B — H 2 (Travis Laidlaw, Zach Hoadley).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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