Quebec holds off Pittsfield, ties series
PITTSFIELD -- The music blaring out of Wahconah Park's public address system summed things up well. The Pittsfield Colonials are heading to Canada with their best-of-five Can-Am League championship series tied 1-1 and with "Don't Stop Believin' " ringing in their ears.
"In all honesty, if you look at it we could very easily be 2-0 or we could very easily be 0-2. We have confidence in the starters we have going and in our offense," Pittsfield center fielder Dan Carte said. "I don't think it changes one bit that we believe we can win this series."
Quebec's Pierre-Luc LaForest hit a two-run home run in the top of the third inning and then hit a fourth-inning sacrifice fly that proved to be the difference as Les Capitales beat Pittsfield 5-4 before 787 enthusiastic fans at the old ballpark on Wahconah Street.
Pittsfield fell behind 5-0 after 31 2 innings, but rallied to within a run. The Colonials did get the go-ahead run on first base with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, but reliever Matthew Rusch got Angel Molina to ground into an inning-ending double play. Then Rusch retired the Colonials in the ninth to send the series north all tied up.
"They have a great team," LaForest said. "They can hit. You can't sleep on them. You can't underestimate those hitters. One through nine, if you make a mistake, they're going to jump on them."
The Colonials are off to Quebec City for the final three games of the series.
Pittsfield almost made it to the bus up 2-0 in the series. The Colonials scored three runs off starter Dan Sausville in the fifth to make the score 5-4.
The Quebec right-hander retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh, but Bomback singled to center to lead off the eighth. It was the third hit of the game for Bomback (3 for 4), who is 5 for 9 against Quebec.
Bomback took second on Matt Nandin's sacrifice and went to third on Carte's single to right. Quebec manager Patrick Scalabrini went to the bullpen for Rusch, Les Capitales' closer, who gave up RBI singles to Nandin and Bomback in the bottom of the ninth inning that completed the Colonials' 6-5 Game 1 victory.
"This is a game of inches. Last night a couple of things bounced their way. Tonight, we came back and you have to have that confidence," Rusch said. "Tonight, we got the breaks."
He worked the count to 0-2 on Molina, and then got the Colonials' left fielder to ground into a double play. Shortstop Ivan Naccarata handled the ball cleanly, flipped to Josh Colafemina at second to get Carte and threw Molina out by a couple of steps.
"We just busted him inside, three straight fastballs, hoping to get a rollover," Rusch continued. "With Josh and ‘Nac' out there, there was no doubt they were going to turn it for us."
The Colonials brought their three hottest available postseason hitters to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Rusch set the side down in order. He struck out Jason Taylor, got Donny Leon on a fly ball to right and struck out pinch-hitter Jerod Edmondson to end the game.
Pittsfield was playing shorthanded. Edmondson was available for pinch-hitting duties but couldn't start because of a lingering ankle injury. Outfielder Quentin Davis pulled a quad muscle in Game 1 and was out while designated hitter Rafael Cabreja broke a finger Tuesday when hit by a pitch.
"Our guys off the bench can get the job done too. We still believe in all of them," said Carte. "Just because a couple of regulars are out doesn't mean anything."
The Colonials could have been knocked out of this game early, but reliever Jonny Venters pitched a more-than-solid 41 3 innings of relief. He gave up a run in the fourth, but pitched out of a bases loaded jam. He retired 10 of 11 batters before giving up a leadoff single to Goefrey Tomlinson in the eighth to end his night.
"I've had a little success against them, I have a win against them," the rookie reliever said. "The most important thing when you come out of the pen is to go out there and fill the zone up, throw strikes. All I was trying to do today was keep our team in the game, give us a chance."
Quebec chased starter Miguel Flores in the third inning. The right-hander, who was 8-1 in the second half of the season, gave up four runs on five hits in the second inning. Naccarata led off the inning with a solo home run over the center field wall. Sebastian Boucher hit a one-out triple to center and then LaForest went the other way, hitting a two-run homer that just cleared the fence by the Pittsfield bullpen.
LaForest has been Quebec's big bat. The former major leaguer with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia is 4 for 7 with a pair of homers and six RBI.
"We're not happy about losing. Like you've seen in this whole playoffs, we fight back," Pittsfield catcher Scott Knazek said. "There's no way in the ninth inning, not one time, did we think we were going to lose. This doesn't change that. We know we have a good team and we think we can win at any time."
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