|Bulldogs Win Western Mass State Tourney|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
09:53PM / Monday, July 17, 2017
GREENFIELD, Mass. -- The Lanesborough Bulldogs 11-and-under Cal Ripken Baseball team Monday rallied from a 10-5 deficit to earn an 11-10 win over Ashburnham-Westborough in the Western Mass State Tournament championship game.
The Bulldogs scored three runs without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the fifth and Kyle Kelly pitched a scoreless fifth to send the team on to the New England Regional later this month in Waterville, Maine.
On Monday, Lanesborough needed to win twice against Ash-West, a team that took a 6-4 decision from the Bulldogs earlier in the double-elimination tournament.
The Bulldogs also needed to bounce back after blowing a 5-0 lead when Ash-West scored nine in the third inning of the winner-take-all finale.
“It was a little nerve-wracking there, but we hung in there,” Bulldogs coach Jason Pause said. “We’ve done that whole series. I give it to the kids. They never give up and always come through with the hits.”
The comeback started with a three-run fourth that featured hits from Josh Rudin, Tyler Bartini and Tyler Carlson. A throwing error on Carlson’s single allowed Bartini and Damon Pause to score, making it 10-8.
In the fifth, Kelly (3-⅔ innings, two earned runs) pitched around a two-out bunt single to keep Ash-West scoreless.
Then the wheels came off for Ash-West in the bottom of the inning.
After a 4-6-3 double play cleared the bases with two out, Bulldogs Mason Abdalla and Emile Miller were hit by pitches, and the ‘Dogs drew four straight walks as Ash-West used three different pitchers in the inning.
The last three walks were drawn by Rudin, Bartini and Pause, each scoring a run, including the tying run (Emile Miller) and the winning run (Damenecoe Conway).
With the teams having to play back-to-back games on Greenfield’s George Lunt Field, pitching was at a premium. The eight walks and two hit-batters from Ash-West pitchers made a big difference while Tyler Carlson and Kelly combined to walk just one in the nightcap.
“Right from the get-go, that was going to be one of our strengths,” Jason Pause said. “I have probably seven kids who can go in there to pitch and throw strikes.
“I wanted to be here earlier. I didn’t want to lose on Saturday. But I knew we had the depth, and we were able to get those kids out. Kyle is pretty much our ace. He only threw a few pitches the first game, and then we were able to get good innings from Tyler Carlson and get Kyle Kelly in there to finish it.”
In Monday’s first game, Bartini came up big on the mound early to protect the Bulldogs’ lead.
After Kelly’s two-run double keyed a three-run second for the designated visitors, Ash-West got a run back and loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the second. Bartini then struck out the next three to keep it a 3-1 game.
“He comes ready to play,” Jason Pause said. “He plays better when he’s mad. So put him in a tough situation, and he comes through every time.”
Damon Pause (who caught both ends of the double-header) hit a two-run home run to extend Lanesborough’s lead to 5-1 in the third. In the fourth, singles by Kelly and Judge Martin helped push it to 7-2.
Ash-West drew to within a pair of runs with a three-run fourth, but the Bulldogs got some breathing room in the top of the fifth.
First, Bartini reached on an infield single, stole second and came home on a pair of wild pitches. Then Pause hit his second home run of the game, this time a solo shot, to make it 9-5.
Carlson, Lanesborough’s third pitcher of the first game, allowed just one walk over the final two innings to preserve the 9-5 win and force the “if necessary” game to decide the title.
The Bulldogs jumped on top early with a two-run first that included Josh Worthington’s RBI double. In the second, Caleb Low got things started when he legged out an infield single with one out, and the ‘Dogs went on to score three runs thanks to RBIs from Conway, Rudin and Bartini to make it 5-0.
But Carlson, who cruised through the first two innings without allowing a baserunner, ran into trouble in the third, when Ash-West collected nine hits and took advantage of a Lanesborough error to hang nine runs on the board.
Ash-West added a solo home run in the top of the fourth to make it 10-5 before Lanesborough rallied for the win.