Pittsfield American beats Holden, will play for Section 1 Little League title at home
PITTSFIELD — It was a bumpy road, but when all was said and done Saturday afternoon, Jack Reed steered the Pittsfield 10-12s to a winner-take all Section 1 championship game at Deming Park on Sunday with a dramatic 9-8 win over Holden.
"I thought Reed was gutsy," coach Matt Stracuzzi said. "We planned on throwing him only 20 pitches, but once we took the lead it came down to do we want to travel or stay home. He did a nice job of keeping the ball down."
Pittsfield and Holden both entered Saturday's game undefeated, which meant that both teams had already locked up a spot in the championship game, however the home team still had to be decided. The Holden bats were loud all afternoon and scored eight runs over the game's first four frames. Then Reed came in and pitched a scoreless fifth inning to give Pittsfield an opportunity to stage a comeback. American trailed 8-7 when stepping up to bat in the sixth inning.
"Our team can come back really well," said Cam Harrington, who finished his day at the plate with a 3 for 3 performance that included three runs batted in.
Simon Mele started the inning with a walk, but a double play brought the 10-12s to their final out with no runners on the base pads. Aiden Carlino worked a walk and was pinch-ran for by Joey Roccabruna. Harrington stepped to the plate and sliced a ball down the right-field line that rolled by the Holden defender. By the time the ball got back to the infield, Roccabruna had scored and Harrington, the game's go-ahead run, was standing at third base. Mitch Hall followed by hitting a laser that clipped the glove of Holden's shortstop, allowing Harrington to score his second run of the game to make the score 9-8.
With home-field advantage on the line, Stracuzzi sent Reed out to pitch the sixth inning. He started it with a walk that brought the go-ahead run to the plate before recording the first out of the inning with a strikeout. Holden's Connor Keaney sent a ball up the middle where Jack Abel, Pittsfield's sure-handed short stop, snagged it and tagged second before firing it to first. The throw may have been a bit high, but Mele's length helped him corral it before landing on the bag to record the game's final out.
"This is such a fun team to coach," Stracuzzi said. "[Playing the Section 1 championship at home] is a huge boost for us."
Harrington started the game on the mound and pitched four innings of work. The Holden bats came out swinging and plated eight runs during Harrington's outing, with five of the runs being scored with two outs.
"I thought he threw the ball well, but today we gave up a lot of two-out hits with runners in scoring position, which is something we don't normally do," Stracuzzi said. "He went four innings and kept us in the game. Holden is a great hitting team and I am glad that some of the stuff that happened on the mound didn't effect him at the plate. He was a little spark plug getting on base with key hits for us."
With Pittsfield trailing 4-2 in the top of the third, Harrington delivered a two-run double that plated Reed and Jason Codey, who was 3 for 4 with a double, to tie the game at four. While Harrington tied the game, he believed that the day's most important hit was also the game's longest hit.
"It started with Simon's three-run home run," Harrington explained. "That boosted our confidence."
Pittsfield regained its lead the top of the fourth inning, as Abel and Codey each singled before Mele sent his sixth home run since the District Championship over the center-field wall to give Pittsfield a 7-4 advantage.
Holden answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, as Cam Morris and Sam Perry each knocked doubles and Keaney plated a run with a single, before getting caught in a run down to end the inning.
From there, it was Reed, Harrington and the Pittsfield Americans who controlled the game to take their second sixth-inning victory to secure home-field advantage in the Section 1 championship game.
"They want it and want to keep the tradition of the South/American Little League going," Stracuzzi said. "These kids know history is rich here and that we've had great players and teams come out of [Pittsfield Little League]. I tell them that they're that next generation and they've really stepped up to the challenge."
The championship game will take place today at Deming Park with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
Pittsfield 112 302 — 9 12 2
Holden 220 400 — 8 10 0
Cam Harrington (4), Jack Reed (2), and Jack Reed (3), Mitch Hall (3). Matt Bjorkman (5), Jamie Herlihy (1) and Cam Morris. W — Reed. L — Herlihy. 2B — P 2 (Harrington, Jason Codey), H 3 (Alex Zekos, Sam Perry, Morris). HR — P 1 (Simon Mele).
Jake Mendel can be reached at Jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, @Jmendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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