|Little League Notebook: Night Baseball Requires Some Adjustment|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
11:01PM / Sunday, August 05, 2018
BRISTOL, Mass. -- On Monday, the Pittsfield American Little League plays its second straight game under the lights at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center.
Night baseball is still failry unique for the 12-year-olds, and that novelty nearly worked against the Americans in Sunday's opener.
Goffstown, N.H., had two runs in and a man on with one out in the top of the sixth, and Pittsfield was clinging to a 4-2 lead when Alex Magdziarsz lofted a fly ball to center field.
After finding the ball in the night sky, Owen Salvatore made the adjustments he needed to make the grab, helping to preserve an eventual 4-2 win
"Honestly, I really couldn't see it until it was probably 10 feet away from me," Salvatore said. "I just did the best I could to try to find it.
"It's hard because of the lights. I got it, though. I don't know how, honestly."
Without lights at their home facility at Deming Park, the Americans hit the road this month to get used to finding the ball at night.
"For the last two weeks, to get ready for the states and this, we were able to practice at Belanger [Field]," Pittsfield AL manager Joe Skutnik said. "We were under the lights two nights a week. We tried as best we can to get used to it.
"It's always a concern because you don't play under the lights enough. But the lights here are a heck of a lot better than the lights at Belanger."
Sunday's game started at 7 p.m. the fourth game of the day at the facility and the same start time as Monday's winners' bracket game against Saco, Maine.
Monday will be the final time Pittsfield will play under the lights this week -- barring schedule adjustments due to weather. The winner on Monday goes to a 4 p.m. game on Wednesday; the loser plays Tuesday at 1 p.m.
All the loser's bracket games are at 1, as is the title game on Saturday.
Viewers on ESPN+ Sunday evening got an up close and personal look at an official Little League baseball when Salvatore fouled a pitch back and into the camera behind home plate.
After a delay to clean up the broken glass, he hit the next pitch even harder and in the right direction, into the left-center gap for a triple that drove in Pittsfield's second run of the game.
"It kind of takes your mind off of what's going on because it's a delay so you can get your head back in the game, which I managed to do," Salvatore said. "I found the pitch I needed to hit, and I hit it. It went exactly where I wanted it to go."
Sunday's other game in the New England Regional was not nearly as close but still exciting for the crowd at the Giamatti Center.
Coventry, R.I., earned a 10-0, mercy rule win over defending champion Fairfield, Conn., a contest that saw Rhode Island's Tommy Turner throw a perfect game, striking out six and not allowing a runner in four innings of work.
South Burlington, Vt., wins the award for most miles traveled in the New England Regional, coming 252 miles to get to Bristol and edging out the Mainers, who had a 207-mile trip from Saco to Bristol.
But neither of those teams can compete with the squad from Berlin, Md., which traveled 336 miles from the Maryland coast to central Connecticut for the Mid-Atlantic Regional, being held concurrently with the New England tourney.
All 12 teams at Bristol this week are looking to go to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series later this month.
For the record, Pittsfield is "officially" listed as a 70-mile drive to Bristol.
Teams are fed between 800 and 1,000 meals per day at the dining hall on the Giamtti center campus during the height of the seven-day tournament.
All 12 teams -- players and coaches -- are housed free of charge in Little League's dormitories on the site.