'The real deal': Pittsfield American a step closer to Little League World Series
PITTSFIELD — In baseball lingo, the pitcher and catcher are "battery mates."
Little League pitcher Owen Salvatore and catcher Antonio Scalise had a capacity crowd at the Beacon Cinema on Wednesday charged up over the Pittsfield American All-Stars' 10-1 win against Coventry, R.I., in Bristol, Conn., after Beacon management had doled out all available free admission tickets to the televised game on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes before game time.
Salvatore tossed a complete-game victory, and Scalise belted a two-run home run in the third inning that had the crowd sensing that the team would advance to the New England Regional Championship game Saturday.
"Incredible. This team is the real deal," said Jim Hunt, summing up Pittsfield's dominant performance.
Hunt was among those watching the game on the big screen who will head to Bristol, Conn., to cheer as the hometown team looks to advance to the Little League World Series tournament in Willamsport, Pa.
Danielle Mack said she and her sons can't wait to see Pittsfield in person; her son, Connor, played with American standout Evan Blake during the regular season.
"We have friends in the Boston area who are rooting us on," she said.
The local all-stars have become the darlings of Berkshire County — and possibly the state.
Dalton Little Leaguer Patrick McLaughlin, whose cousin, Jake Duquette, plays for Pittsfield, believes that the team plays well in all facets of the game.
"They don't make errors; have plenty of pitching and hitting," Patrick told The Eagle.
State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, said he is trying to get bipartisan support from his colleagues in the Legislature.
"It's amazing how Pittsfield is representing the entire state," he said.
Hinds fired off a slew tweets to rally lawmakers behind Massachusetts' other boys of summer, those being Boston Red Sox.
State Sen. Joseph Boncore from Winthrop tweeted back: "Some towns produce great senators; others great teams. Go Pittsfield!!!!"
The impetus for the free screening of Wednesday's game came about 24 hours earlier.
The collaboration with the Beacon was initiated after Mayor Linda Tyer was approached Tuesday morning by resident Matt Mellace, who urged the city to spearhead a community showing. City staff helped to secure permissions from ESPN, which aired the game on its online streaming service, ESPN Plus.
"Pittsfield is our home, and when one of us does well, we want to celebrate that to the fullest. So, when the city was asked to coordinate a community event for this game, we found a way to make it happen," Tyer said. "A big thank you to the Beacon for making this a reality. Talk about teamwork!"
The main ESPN channel will show Saturday's game live at 1 p.m., but if you can make it to Bristol, it'll be a lively crowd, according to James McGrath, Pittsfield's park, open space and natural resource program manager.
McGrath was at Pittsfield's Monday night game along with his sons, Ian and Kyle.
"It was electric," he said. "I saw a lot of familiar faces."
Dick Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com and 413-496-6233.
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