|Lee, Guachione Lead Pittsfield Nationals to Tourney Win|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
08:23PM / Friday, July 14, 2017
DALTON, Mass. -- Nick Guachione hit a two-run home run, and Matt Lee held the Pittsfield American League scoreless for 5-2/3 innings Friday to lead the Pittsfield National League to a 4-1 win that forced a winner-take all final in the Don Gleason District 1 Little League Tournament for ages 10-12.
The Shire City rivals will meet on Saturday at noon to decide who advances out of Berkshire County in the Williamsport tournament.
The National Leaguers, winners of the losers bracket in the double-elimination tournament, faced a do-or-die situation on Friday night at Chamberlain Field.
And Lee did just what he needed to do, striking out seven and stranding six runners over the first four innings.
He set the tone early when he pitched around a leadoff walk and kept the game 0-0 after the Americans got two men in scoring position with one out.
"That was huge," Pittsfield NL coach Darren Lee said. "Historically, they've always had one or two big innings against us. This was our fourth time in two years against them. The other three times, they had a big inning against us."
As recently as Tuesday, the AL used a four-run fourth-inning to open a six-run lead en route to an 11-4 win that sent the NL into the losers bracket.
It looked like the Americans would get their offense going early on Friday when Nick Brindle worked a leadoff walk and, after a fielders choice, Brandon Mazzeo singled to right to put runners at the corners.
Mazzeo stole second, but Lee got the next man to ground out to Adam Lazits at first base. And he got the final out on a fly ball right fielder Jackson Moller.
In the second, a two-out Collin Merwin single followed by an error put two on for the AL, but Lee got the next batter on an infield fly.
In the third, Chase Racine singled and moved up on a passed ball, but Lee recorded one of his seven strikeouts to end the threat and keep it 0-0.
"You know what he does, he throws strikes," Darren Lee said of Matt Lee. "In Little League baseball, when you throw a lot of strikes, you're going to be successful. I think he had a couple of walks today, but he kept it over the plate.
"And our defense played very well tonight. When you make the plays, and you don't walk a lot of guys, you're going to be successful, which we were."
The Nats got the bats going in the bottom of the third.
Dante Stanton got it started with a leadoff walk, and after Nathan Bentz reached on a fielders choice, Guachione tattooed a pitch over the left field fence to make it 2-0.
"We've got a lot of home run hitters," Darren Lee said. "I know I needed one or two guys to come through, and Nick was the guy to come through."
In the fifth, Ethan Britmaier drew a one-out walk and went to second on a wild pitch. The with two out, the Americans opted not to take a chance on Guachione, instead issuing an intentional free pass.
Tyler Gaudette made the most of his opportunity by pounding a two-run triple to make it a 4-0 lead.
Lee got the first two outs in the sixth without allowing a runner but had to leave due to his pitch count. Guachione went to the mound and was greeted with a triple by Connor Lavinio.
An error scored the run, and a walk put two men on and brought the tying run to the plate, but a ground ball to the left side ended the threat and set the stage for Saturday's finale.