Pittsfield American reaches 10-12 District 1 Little League final with win over Dalton-Hinsdale

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STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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PITTSFIELD — When Evan Blake's second home run of the game cleared the fence in the fifth inning, Pittsfield American had a walk-off win in the winner's bracket final of the 10-12 District 1 Little League tournament.

The win advances Pittsfield American to the championship round.

"We've got to get that [last win], and that's usually the hardest one, in all the years I've been doing this," American manager Joe Skutnik said after the Pittsfield side walked away with a 11-1, five-inning win over Dalton-Hinsdale on Tuesday at Deming Park.

"No matter who you play," he said, "it's always the hardest one to get."

Blake, Antonio Scalise, Ben Jacob and Jake Duquette all had two hits each, as Pittsfield American pounded out 12 hits against four different Dalton-Hinsdale pitchers.

Cam Sime got the win for Pittsfield American, going 3 2/3 innings, and giving up one run on one hit, with one walk and five strikeouts. The only hit came off the bat of Dalton-Hinsdale shortstop Patrick McLaughlin. McLaughlin, who hit a two-run home run in Dalton-Hinsdale's win over Great Barrington, led off the fourth with a double to left. He went to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch.

Dalton-Hinsdale had only two other base runners in the game. Sime walked Matt Kinzer in the second inning and Braedyn Melle reached on an error in the third. Neither runner made it to second.

With the win, Pittsfield American advances to the championship game on Thursday. Dalton-Hinsdale, meanwhile, will play tonight at 5:30 against Great Barrington for the right to face Pittsfield American for the championship. The winner of the loser's bracket final would have to win twice to claim the District title.

"We'll be back here tomorrow night against Great Barrington," Dalton-Hinsdale manager Ben Melle said. "We took them the first time."

Sime, a right-hander, retired Dalton-Hinsdale 1-2-3 in the first inning on only eight pitches.

Pittsfield American used small ball to score two runs in the first. Nick Brindle singled, but was forced at second on a grounder by Walker Abdallah. Blake then hit a fielder's choice, but both runners were safe. Antonio Scalise, who was 2 for 3, drove in the first run with a single, moving Blake to third. With Tommy Mullin up, the Pittsfield American coaches started Scalise, who was safe at second while Blake scored on the double steal.

The Pittsfield American pitchers did the rest. Sime went the first 3 2/3 innings, while Scalise pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, setting down all four hitters he faced, and striking out one.

"I was very happy with the way Cam pitched," Skutnik said. "We did want to shut him down, in case there's an 'if' game. To almost go four innings on 50 pitches, that was pretty good."

Things went from bad to worse for Dalton-Hinsdale in the third inning. On a 3-0 count, Blake launched a pitch from reliever Ryan Adams over the fence in left for a leadoff solo home run. Owen Salvatore made it 5-0 with a two-run double to center, plating Scalise and Anthony Frieri.

Pittsfield American added two in the fourth and four in the fifth. The final three came home on a three-run homer by Blake, that sailed over the fence in center.

"It means a lot" to get through this round, said Blake. "[The early lead] brought my head up because I was really excited. We had pitching left, and Cam did a great job."

One thing that made Skutnik and coaches Ty Perrault and Pat Bramer really happy was the fact that their reserves made their presence felt. Duquette had two hits and scored two runs. He and Anthony Frieri had hits, while Ben Cornish was hit by a pitch, so three out of four reached base. They combined to score three runs.

"You know who ignited this group? The subs when we put them in," said Skutnik. "They did the job today. Anthony put down a very good bunt. Jake had a couple of hits today, Ben had a good at-bat. Overall, the subs played well."

While Pittsfield American gets a practice day to get ready for the championship, the Dalton-Hinsdale players and coaches have to win just to keep going.

"You've got to look to the future. We have a strong team here," the Dalton-Hinsdale manager said. "We're looking forward to tomorrow night. At the end of the day, they're kids. It's Little League and we're here to have fun.

"We'll be ready for the next game, and they know what they have to do."

———

Dalton-Hinsdale     000     10     —     1     1     1

Pittsfield American     203     24     —     11     12     1

Braedyn Melle (1), Ryan Adams (1 2/3), Tommy Dunham (2), Charlie Wendell (2/3). Cam Sime (3 2/3), Antonio Scalise (1 1/3). W — Sime. L — Melle. 2B — DH (Patrick McLaughlin). P (Owen Salvatore). HR — P (Evan Blake 2).

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @howardherman, or 413-496-6253.


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