Pittsfield 13s eliminated in quarterfinals of Babe Ruth World Series
WESTFIELD — One last chance.
The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Stars saw their one-run lead vanish in the top of the seventh inning in a World Series quarterfinal game Tuesday morning. Trailing by one, Pittsfield got the leadoff runner on in the bottom of the final inning.
Unfortunately for Pittsfield, Cam Sime got to third base but could not score the tying run as Janesville (Wisc.) eliminated Pittsfield in a 4-3 win at Bullens Field.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the New England Regional champions, who won their first two games in Westfield, but dropped the last three.
"I thought we played good through all seven" innings, Pittsfield catcher Antonio Scalise said. "We battled hard and stuck with us. A couple of mistakes cost us."
The game was moved to the morning to evade a weather front due in during the day. There was on-and-off drizzle in the middle innings.
"This team is very special," Pittsfield manager Paul Brindle said. "You've got a lot of really good athletes. They've had success in the past, since they've been nine years old, so it's continued every year. We fully expected to be in the World Series this year, so I'm happy we made it. We competed here. Every single game was [close]. Whether we won or lost, it shows that we have very good baseball in Pittsfield."
With the win, Janesville moves to the semifinals, where it will play Fargo (N.D.) on Wednesday. Fargo, the Midwest Plains champion, had already beaten the Ohio Valley champion 10-2 during American Division pool play.
On the other side of the bracket, Meridian (Miss.) beat Hawaii 5-2, and will play National Division top seed Greenville (N.C.) in the other semifinal.
For the first time in the World Series, Pittsfield jumped out to an early lead, going up 2-0 after one inning. Janesville came back with two runs on one hit and four walks in the second, tying the score. That inning was marked by another successful application of the "hidden ball trick." Janesville had the bases loaded with one out when Nick Gregg flied to center. Owen Salvatore relayed the ball in, and second baseman Nick Brindle unleashed the trick, tagging Aiden Schenk out for what has to go into the books as a double play.
In the third, Pittsfield got the lead back when Nick Brindle popped a single behind shortstop, went to second on a one-out single by Evan Blake and to third when Scalise walked. Keegan Crouse went the other way, singling to right and scoring Brindle with the tie-breaking run.
Pittsfield ran into some bad luck when Owen Salvatore lined to short, and Scalise was doubled up off second.
Meanwhile, Pittsfield starter Damon Pause settled into a pretty good rhythm. He threw 63 pitches in the first two innings, walking in those two runs in the second. But over the final two frames, he threw a total of 28 pitches. He walked the leadoff batter in the third inning but retired the next six. A performance like that did save Paul Brindle from going to his bullpen early.
"I'm really proud of that kid," the manager said of Pause. "He's a very good pitcher and I had not pitched him all year. I had only pitched him in scrimmage games. We're in an elimination game and I'm asking a kid to come in and pitch who hasn't pitched. I thought he settled in, got us to where we wanted to be."
Pause went four innings, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks, while striking out six.
Brayden Gutzmer came in and pitched out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings. The one in the fifth was his doing as he hit the first two batters before setting down the side. In the seventh a pair of two-out errors had runners on the corners before Gutzmer got Tre Miller to fly to Sime in left field.
In the seventh, Gutzmer hit Nick Gregg with a pitch and then plunked Charlie Claas with one out. Paul Brindle brought in Christian Salzarulo, who walked Broden Jackson on a 3-2 pitch. A wild pitch brought home pinch-runner Jacey Campbell with the tying run, and the other runners moved up to second and third.
The next Janesville hitter was Tyler Horkan, and Horkan was called on to put down a squeeze bunt with two strikes. His successful bunt plated Claas with the go-ahead run. But when Lucas LaBugnen walked, a base-running snafu by Broden Jackson ended the ending.
"I should have squeezed a couple of innings earlier, but I talked myself out of it, because the guy who was at the plate messed a squeeze up earlier in the tournament," Janesville manager Rick Kyle said. "We had no choice there. We had to do what we had to do to get a run across."
In five World Series games, Pittsfield scored 11 runs and gave up 12. Three of the five games were one-run contests. Pittsfield was the only team not to win or lose by a comfortable margin. Paul Brindle said he thought that took a bit of a toll on his players as the innings ticked away.
"It kept us in the game, and kept us focused the whole game," Nick Brindle added. "It made us a little nervous when you came up to bat in the last inning. You don't want to have tough games, but it happens."
The Pittsfield manager said that he full well expects this team to contend again as 14- and 15-year-olds. For the players, it was the end of a memorable summer.
"It was great spending time with all the kids," said Scalise. "It was a fun experience, definitely."
"We accomplished a lot," Nick Brindle said. "We were a really good team. I love these guys, and I just want to keep playing baseball with them."
Janesville 020 000 2 — 4 3 0
Pittsfield 201 000 0 — 3 8 2
Josh Knuth (3 1/2), Denver Hughes and Nick Gregg. Damon Pause (4), Brayden Gutzmer (2 1/3), Christian Salzarulo (2/3) and Antonio Scalise. W — Hughes. L — Gutzmer. 2B — J: Taye Sihabouta. P: Evan Blake.
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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