DALTON, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Little League National League All-Stars Saturday used a handful of big hits, flawless defense and overpowering pitching from Tyler Gaudette to win the District 1 title and advance to the sectional tournament.
Gaudette struck out 11 and allowed just four hits to earn a 4-1, complete-game win over the Pittsfield American League in the final game of the Don Gleason District 1 12-year-old tournament.
The NL took its second must-win game in as many days after emerging from the losers bracket of the double-elimination tourney. Earlier in the tournament, the American League had earned an 11-4 win over its rivals.
“It definitely brings out the motivation of the team coming out of the losers bracket after losing, 11-4,” Gaudette said. “But you can’t really get down too hard on yourself because it’s going to take you out of the game.
“We just put our heads forward and kept going.”
Less than 24 hours after Matt Lee pitched a gem to force Saturday’s winner-take-all final, Gaudette was dominant, riding his plus-60 mph fastball in a performance whose only blemish was a one-out solo home run by Chase Racine with his team trailing by four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The NL broke open a one-run game with three runs in the top of the sixth.
The first run of the nail-biter at Chamberlain Field came in the fourth when Nick Guachione led off with a double, stole second and came home on a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of Adam Lazits.
For a while, it looked like that was all the offense either Gaudette or AL starter Collin Merwin would allow.
But Guachione struck again to open the sixth with a solo homer to center field that made it 2-0.
After Merwin got a strikeout, Lazits doubled and came home when Lee stroked a two-run homer to right that gave Gaudette all the cushion he needed.
The AL had runners in scoring position in the third and fourth with a chance to take the lead and tie the game, respectively.
In the third, Nick Brindle (2-for-3) singled up the middle and moved up on a wild pitch with two out, but Gaudette got the third out on a swinging strike.
In the fourth, Brandon Mazzeo worked a one out walk and moved up on a Charlie Heimann sac bunt and Zach Pupo’s single to put runners at the corners with two out. But the AL popped up a bunt attempt, and Gaudette jumped off the mound to stab the fly and end the inning.
He then went on to fan five of the final six hitters, including striking out the side around Racine’s sixth-inning homer.
“We knew we had two aces,” NL coach Darren Lee said of Matt Lee and Gaudette said. “We needed them to do their job, and they did it. … And the big bats came through. Guachione again and Matt Lee came through today huge -- broke it open.
“We played good defense today. We focused on defense. And like I said yesterday, what we tried to avoid and focused on was the big inning. We didn’t give up the big inning today, and that was the difference for us.”
The Pittsfield NL is off until Wednesday when it will host the first game of the sectional tournament at Clapp Park.
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