|Pittsfield Little Leaguers Carry Mass. Banner to New England Regional|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Sports|
04:23AM / Saturday, August 04, 2018
|The Pittsfield American Little League All-Stars celebrate their win in last weekend's state title game.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Unlike his players, Pittsfield American Little League coach Joe Skutnik knows just what his team is getting into this week.
"As a coach who has been there before and when you get to this point, a state final game, you sit there and say, 'Man, the kids would have a blast down there,' " Skutnik said after Sunday's state title game win over Danvers. "So as a coach, you're really hoping that you can get there — not for yourself but for the kids because it's fun. It's a lot of fun down there."
On Sunday evening in Bristol, Conn., a fun summer for the Pittsfield Americans will continue when they take on Goffstown, N.H., in the first round of the New England Regional Tournament. Six teams from around the region will converge at the Giamatti Little League Center to decide which of them will advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Four teams play Sunday: Fairfield, Conn., and Coventry, R.I., square off in the 1 p.m. opener. The winners will meet South Burlington, Vt., and Saco, Maine, on Monday. Sunday's losers will be back on Tuesday for an elimination game in the double-elimination tournament.
Fans will be able to follow the action all week on ESPN's streaming service, "ESPN Plus" with three games — Thursday, Friday and Saturday's 1 p.m. regional final — slated for the flagship channel of the cable sports giant.
Or Pittsfield residents can make the 1 hour, 40 minute trip to the site of the regionals.
It is a trip the Pittsfield AL — then Pittsfield South — last made in 2001, the second of back-to-back trips to the regional.
That year, the Massachusetts champs advanced all the way to the regional semi-finals, where they lost to eventual New England Champion Lincoln, R.I., 5-4, in seven innings.
Generally speaking, Massachusetts teams have had pretty good success at the regional, advancing to Williamsport 10 times, but no Bay State team has carried the region's flag since Peabody did it in 2009.
Connecticut — and more specifically Fairfield's American LL — has been the dominant team in the last decade. The Nutmeg State has won the title five times in the last 10 years, including Fairfield's 2017 championship, its third in the last eight years.
Overall, Connecticut has 20 regional titles. Massachusetts is next with 10 followed by Rhode Island (nine), New Hampshire (four) and Maine (three).
Vermont is one of eight states, along with Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, who have never sent a team to Williamsport.
Along with Fairfield, Goffstown will be looking to make a return trip to the World Series. The central New Hampshire town last went in 2000.
The 2018 Pittsfield American Little League All-Stars include: Walker Abdallah, Evan Blake, Nick Brindle, Ben Cornish, Jake Duquette, Anthony Frieri, Ben Jacob, Tommy Mullin, Owen Salvatore, Antonio Scalise, Cam Sime, Roshan Warriar and Cam Zerbato.
Skutnik is assisted by coaches Pat Bramer and Ty Perrault.