Italian American Club team beats East Side Cafe to claim Pittsfield Little League American Division championship
PITTSFIELD — The Italian American Club Little League team showed off its dominance in the Pittsfield American Division on Thursday, finishing off an unusual season with a solid 5-0 win over East Side Cafe in the American Division Winner's Bracket Final.
The win by IAC kept the proverbial 'if' game off the table, and allowed the group of local youngsters to celebrate a title in a season that was not always guaranteed.
"It just feels great," winning pitcher Jay Codey said, "how we can just play baseball, and win the championship."
The meeting was the fifth between the two sides this summer, and IAC coach Kevin Codey said that all of the games have been close. While IAC did keep East Side Cafe off of the board Thursday, it took the winners until the fourth to create any separation.
After 3 1/2 innings of scoreless ball, IAC struck in the home fourth. Codey, who went the distance on the mound, led the inning off with a double, and was brought home by Simon Mele on a double of his own. Connor Mack then hit an RBI single to plate Mele, and Mack eventually came around to score on a RBI single by Xander Howes, making it 3-0 after four.
"The first time [through the order] we just realized we weren't on balance and doing what we usually do," Jay Codey said, "so second time we just thought it through and we knew we had to get hits, and we just got our hits and scored the runs."
In the top of the fifth, Aidan Arseneau reached on a single to start the inning, and Dakota Moore got on with a fielder's choice and eventually moved to second base. But a strikeout by Jay Codey — he had nine in the game — shut the door on a potential rally.
IAC plated two more in the home fifth to seal the deal. Cam Blake hit a triple and scored when the ensuing throw to third sailed out of play. Jay Codey stepped up next and reached on a single, and moved to third on a double by Mele. Two batters later, Mack hit a bloop RBI single to plate Codey for the game's final run.
"We hit some balls right at them, but the second time through, the middle of our order started hitting the ball hard, and finding some holes, finding some gaps," IAC coach Kevin Codey said. "It took a couple hits there in the fourth or fifth to bring something through. Once we gone one, we got a couple more going, and they kind of feed off of each other."
Chris Barry reached on a double in the top of the sixth for East Side to get a runner on for a rally, but Jay Codey responded with a striekout and a pop-up to center field to end the game.
Cam Hillard was solid on the mound for East Side in the loss. He went four innings before being taken out, giving up six hits on four strikeouts and no walks. Both starting pitchers played so well, that the game was over in under an hour.
"Every time we've played it's been a pitcher's duel," Kevin Codey said. "Jay was on today, he had command, inside outside, breaking ball, fastball, he was getting ahead."
Kevin Codey also praised the play of his defense, giving a special kudos to Mack after Mack was switched to third base for the game.
Andrew Hamill closed out the game for East Side Cafe on the mound, giving up the two runs while striking out three batters and walking none. The lone error of the game for either team was on the wild throw that allowed Blake to score his run.
"It was just great to play this year. We were in delay, wait, wait, wait, and just to get the kids some normalcy and back on a schedule was great," Kevin Codey said. "We knew coming in we had a pretty decent team, but we didn't dream about this, about winning today, [until] we got going through the year and got better and better and better."
Jay Codey finished the day 3 for 3 at the plate with two doubles. Mele went 2 for 3, as did Mack. For East Side, Barry and Hamill each had doubles.
The end of the Divisional season now means the All-Stars season is up. The county All-Stars games are scheduled to begin next week.
"Now we get to go and do All-Stars, which is good, just to keep it going and keep these kinds on a schedule and give them a normal life," Kevin Codey said.
East Side 000 000 — 0 4 1
IAC 000 32x — 5 9 0
Jay Codey and Cam Blake. Cam Hillard (4), Andrew Hamill (1) and Chris Barry. W — Codey. L — Hillard. 2B — IAC: Simon Mele 2, Codey 2, ESC: Hamill, Barry. 3B — IAC: Blake.
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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