Pittsfield baseball team busts game open in 3rd to advance in Western Mass. D-I tournament

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PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield completed a perfect Division I baseball season at its home on West Housatonic Street. That earned the Generals a spot in the Western Massachusetts D-I semifinals.

"It does" feel great to hold home field in their division, PHS senior catcher Zach Zerbato said, after the second-seeded Generals beat No. 7 Chicopee Comp 15-5, at Buddy Pellerin Field on Saturday afternoon.

"At home, you've got everyone here, all the fans," he said. "It's a field we're familiar with. You win the games at home, it makes it a little easier to go on the road."

Pittsfield (19-2) broke a 1-1 tie with eight runs in the third inning, and held the visiting Colts (11-9) at bay the rest of the game.

Four PHS hitters had multi-hit games, while everyone in the Generals' batting order reached base at least once. The Generals took advantage of seven walks, two hit batters and four Colt errors. The Generals finished up with 11 hits on the day. Designated hitter Jaden Coscia was 2 for 5 with three runs batted in while Joe Cracolici was 2 for 4 with two RBI, Hunter Potash went 2 for 4 with two RBI, while Ian Benoit was 1 for 2 with two RBI.

Pittsfield scored the most runs in a game since it put 19 on the board in a win over Drury last month.

"It's been five days since we played, so I'm always worried about" the bats, PHS coach Seamus Morrison said. "[Zach Nichols] came out and was throwing pretty well. We got to him there in the third, and we just kept it rolling. It was great to see."

With the win, the Generals advance to the Western Mass. D-I semifinals for the second consecutive year. PHS will play third-seeded East Longmeadow on Monday at UMass' Earl Lorden Field, with first pitch set for 4 p.m. The Spartans beat No. 6 East Longmeadow 5-3 on Saturday.

It's also a rematch of a game played 10 days ago, when Pittsfield won 7-0.

On the other side of the Division I bracket, top seed Westfield shut out Agawam 2-0, while No. 5 West Springfield edged No. 4 Longmeadow 2-1. Westfield and West Side will play in a semifinal game on Tuesday at Westfield State.

The semifinal winners will play Saturday at UMass, at 4 p.m.

Chicopee Comp tied the game 1-1 on Anthony Folta's third-inning sacrifice fly. Pittsfield answered in a big way.

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With one out, Joe Traversa singled and stole second. After Ian Benoit walked, Traversa scored on a base hit by Potash, breaking the tie. Ryan LaPierre put down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Nichols threw it away, allowing Benoit to score. After Jon Halse struck out, Coscia crushed a 2-0 pitch to straightaway center field, plating two runs.

PHS sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning, and when Benoit hit a two-run single to left, PHS was up 9-1.

"You can't make those kind of mistakes against a good team," Comp coach Justin Franczyk said. "My assistant and I were talking that this was probably the best hitting team we've seen in five or six years. They just rake one through nine. You can't give them extra outs."

Pittsfield starter Carter Matthews pitched himself out of a pretty big jam in the top of the fourth. With one out, he walked Nichols and gave up a single to Hunter Pennell. After Kendry Rosado struck out, Adam LeBeau and Joey Klaus both walked on four straight pitches. The walk to Klaus plated Nichols. But pinch hitter Tucker Delessio grounded to Benoit at second to end the threat. Scoring one run and leaving the bases loaded gave Morrison and the Generals a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.

"We were lucky. We did stuff we hadn't done all year, really, which is walk guys. We kind of struggled in the late innings, which is why they put up a couple of runs there," said Morrison. "Luckily enough, we took care of it enough with the bats, where we had enough of a lead and we were still comfortable."

And when Nick Messer flied to Lucien Lamoureaux to end the game, the Generals got to celebrate a home tournament win for the first time in a while. In two previous D-I tournaments where PHS had the home field in the first game, it lost.

"He mentioned it, but honestly, we didn't really care," Cracolici said, when he was asked if his coach brought up that streak. "We knew if we just came out and did our thing, had our energy, that we'd be fine."

———

Chicopee Comp     001     112     0     —     5     6     4

Pittsfield     018     402     x     —     15     11     1

Zach Nichols (2 2/3), Adam LeBeau (1/3), Hunter Pennell 3 and Jack Klaus. Carter Matthews (4), Hunter Potash (2), Ryan LaPierre (1) and Zach Zerbato. W — Matthews. L — Nichols. 2B — CC (Anthony Folta, Joey Klaus. P (Jaden Coscia).

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

Pittsfield     018     402     x     —     15     11     1

Zach Nichols (2 2/3), Adam LeBeau (1/3), Hunter Pennell 3 and Jack Klaus. Carter Matthews (4), Hunter Potash (2), Ryan LaPierre (1) and Zach Zerbato. W — Matthews. L — Nichols. 2B — CC (Anthony Folta, Joey Klaus. P (Jaden Coscia).

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

Zach Nichols (2 2/3), Adam LeBeau (1/3), Hunter Pennell 3 and Jack Klaus. Carter Matthews (4), Hunter Potash (2), Ryan LaPierre (1) and Zach Zerbato. W — Matthews. L — Nichols. 2B — CC (Anthony Folta, Joey Klaus. P (Jaden Coscia).

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


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