Pittsfield American repeats as Don Gleason District 1 Little League champs over Great Barrington
PITTSFIELD — Simon Mele walked off the field at Clapp Park on Friday night holding three baseballs that tell the story of the 10-12 Donald Gleason District 1 Little League championship.
Pittsfield American claimed its second-straight District 1 title with a 15-1 win over Great Barrington and Mele led the charge with a three home runs and seven RBI.
"It is a dream for any kid to hit three home runs in a game, but to do it in the final game of the championship, that says a lot about him," coach Matt Stracuzzi said. "He's the type that will listen and work hard at it."
Pittsfield American entered the afternoon with a perfect 4-0 record in pool play and carried that momentum into the championship bout with a seven-run first inning.
Jack Abel and Jason Codey kick-started the top of the first with back-to-back singles, before Mele launched the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence to give Pittsfield a quick 3-0 lead.
"It felt great," Mele explained. "Everybody had energy after that and we just kept scoring."
Jack Reed and Cam Harrington each added doubles on the first pitches they saw to help Pittsfield bat around in the seven-run frame.
"We preach good at bats and don't cheat yourself," Stracuzzi added. "I'm big on if you like that first pitch — go after it.
"I was a little nervous going in, but they took those nerves right away, which was nice."
Codey took to the mound in the bottom of the first and ran into some trouble as Great Barrington had runners at first and second with two outs. Shortstop Keegan Doyle came to the plate and hit a laser that was headed to the gap in right field, however, second basemen Dave Wildgoose sprung into action and snagged the ball for the inning's third out.
"Great Barrington is a great team that made us work harder coming into this game. They really pushed us," Stracuzzi said. "In a one game playoff, you never know what can happen."
Mele started the top of the second inning with a single and Aiden Carlino, who was 3 for 4, moved him to second on a single of his own with one out. Harrington plated Mele with a single to increase the lead to 8-0. With two outs, Connor Devine slapped the first pitch he saw into the outfield, scoring two more runs and pushing the lead to 10-0.
Great Barrington got on the board in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Dominic Calalutti that plated Chris Paul. The run was the first and only Great Barrington scored against Codey, who pitched a complete game while striking out three and walking none on three hits.
The Pittsfield bats were back at it with two more runs in the top of the third inning as Codey ripped a double to left before Mele crushed his second dinger of the day, increasing the lead to 12-1.
"I've spent this season trying to get stronger, faster on the basepaths and smarter at the plate," Mele said.
He added Pittsfield's last three runs in the fourth with his third trip around the bases with a three-run blast, his eighth of the season, that scored Abel and Codey. However, it wasn't his last trot around the field.
After Codey retired the side and the run-rule came into effect in the bottom half of the frame, the Americans took one last trip around Myron Gray Field at Clapp Park, holding a championship banner.
"Its a great feeling [to celebrate with this team]," Mele said. "We've known each other for a while and it feels great to be back [in a championship]."
"They know that this is it [in terms of little league career], so I think they're a little more mature," Stracuzzi said. "They take it a little more serious and know if they don't work hard, this could be the end. I couldn't be more proud of this team."
The Americans now set their sights on the sectional tournament, which will begin on Wednesday when Pittsfield plays the District 4 champions.
"Our goal is to get back to the states," Stracuzzi said. "As long as we keep doing what we are doing and working hard, it'll pay off."
"If we stay energized we play better," Mele added. "At the end of the day we just need to play as a team."
Pittsfield 732 3 — 15 20 1
Great Barrington 010 0 — 1 3 1
Jason Codey and Jack Reed. Matt Lowe (1), Jack Bissallion (3) and Jacob Kries. W — Codey. L — Lowe. 2B — P 3 (Reed, Cam Harrington, Codey). HR — P 3 (Simon Mele 3).
Jake Mendel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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