Great Barrington 12U All-Stars stymie Pittsfield National to survive in District 1 Little League tournament
This story has been updated to correct the spellings of Kyle Wellenkamp and Khalil Carlson
PITTSFIELD — Admittedly, Kyle Wellenkamp would rather play another position than pitch. But when Great Barrington manager Steve Curtin called on Wellenkamp to do that, he came through in a big way.
Wellenkamp pitched out of a fourth-inning jam and struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth as Great Barrington stayed alive in the District 1 Little League tournament Monday. The 3-1 win over Pittsfield National moves Great Barrington into the losers' bracket final on Wednesday night at Deming Park.
"Really coach," is what Curtin said he heard from Wellenkamp to start the fourth inning.
"I need you buddy," Curtin said in response.
In three relief innings, Wellenkamp gave up no runs on three hits, struck out five and did not walk anyone. His work secured the victory for starter Khalil Carlson.
"It's not my strong suit," he said, "but I had to finish it for the team."
With the win, Great Barrington stays alive in the District 1 tournament. Great Barrington will play the loser of Tuesday's winners bracket final between Pittsfield American and Dalton-Hinsdale.
"They stepped up," said Curtin. "They knew we had to win today to keep going, and they want to keep going. All these kids are in their last year of Little League — they want to keep going and we can keep going."
The championship game will be Thursday and the "if" game on Friday. All games start at 5:30 p.m.
"I know they might be a little disappointed because I think we had higher expectations," Pittsfield National manager Alan Gutzmer said. "They kept their heads up. They played the right way and they never got down on each other."
Great Barrington took a 2-0 lead with two runs on two hits in the top of the third inning. It could have been a huge inning, but National starter Dontae Stanton struck out Sam St. Peter with the bases loaded to end the threat.
National scored a run in the third, but left the potential tying run on second base. The Pittsfield side got no closer.
That was part of the on-going plot of this game. Pittsfield National got runners on second and third in the second, third and fourth innings, and only scored one run. In fact, Pittsfield managed to strand eight in six innings.
"We couldn't piece together one of those offensive innings," Gutzmer said. "We got 'half-offensive' innings every time, it seemed like. We'd get one or two guys on there and we couldn't push them across. They made some great plays ... and cut us down."
The biggest defensive play came in the second inning. Brayden Gutzmer led off with a double to the fence in left, and he quickly took third on a Carlson wild pitch. Carter Layne, on a one-out, 1-1 pitch, hit one to first. Great Barrington's Collin Parker didn't go for the easy out, instead throwing home. Catcher Garrett Curtin got the throw and slapped the tag on Gutzmer for a big second out. Charlie Burega reached on an error, and after a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Keegan Aldam grounded to Wellenkamp at third to end the threat.
"The funny thing about that is that those two have been playing together all year," said the Great Barrington manager. "That play is just a natural reaction. They've been doing it all year in the regular league.
"It's nothing new to me and the other coaches when we faced them down in Great Barrington."
That defensive play seemed to spark Great Barrington, who sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the third inning.
With one out, Matt Lowe walked, Curtin singled to left and Carlson hit an RBI single behind second base. That made it 1-0, and the runners ended up on second and third. Great Barrington's Mark Baily walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Wellenkamp got what proved to be the game-winning RBI when he was hit by a pitch, forcing in Curtin.
Pittsfield scored an unearned run when Asher Demary singled and Stanton walked. After Christian Salzarulo struck out, Keegan Crouse popped up to second baseman Baily. Demary was sent from third, but Curtin couldn't hang on to the throw to place the tag, and it was 2-1.
An RBI single by Curtin in the fourth inning gave Great Barrington a much-needed insurance run. Curtin had two of Great Barrington's three hits.
Wellenkamp, meanwhile, gave up a one-out single to Jacob Cooper, his second hit of the game. Layne pinch ran, but never moved off of first as Wellenkamp struck out A.J. Socie and Aldam to end the game.
"I don't think I'm that good at it," Wellenkamp said of pitching. "I like other positions, like first base."
Great Barrington 002 100 — 3 3 1
Pittsfield National 001 000 — 1 7 0
Khalil Carlson (3), Kyle Wellenkamp (3) and Garrett Curtin. Dontae Stanton (3 2/3), Ethan Breitmaier (2 1/3) and Keegan Crouse. W — Carlson. L — Stanton. 2B — PN (Brayden Gutzmer).
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @howardherman, or 413-496-6253.
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