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Blake's Triple Lifts Pittsfield AL in District Tournament
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports
09:08PM / Wednesday, July 03, 2019
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield American Little League 9- to 11-year-old All-Stars Wednesday scored their first two runs on balls that got to the backstop.
 
They scored their last three on a ball that nearly made it to the fence in right field.
 
Cam Blake hit a three-run triple in the top of the third inning to break a 2-2 tie and send the Pittsfield AL on to a 5-2 win over the Pittsfield National League in the Donald Gleason District 1 Tournament.
 
Blake’s two-out bomb completed a two-run comeback for the AL and made a winner of Cam Hillard, who struck out four and allowed two runs in 3-⅓ innings on the mound. Konnor Dugan, who took the ball in the fourth, struck out seven and allowed just two baserunners in preserving the three-run lead.
 
“I was gonna pinch-hit [for Blake], and I had both guys ready,” Pittsfield AL Manager Joe Skutnik said. “At the last minute, I said to Cam, ‘You go up there.’ He hit it pretty well his first at-bat. So I said: Let’s take a shot.
 
“And that was the big blow of the game.”
 
The Nats did all their damage in the bottom of the first inning.
 
Jason Walker led off with an infield single and moved up when Quentin Christopher was hit by a pitch. A double steal put two runners in scoring position for Chase Cook, who dropped a single into center field to score Walker.
 
Caio Lahey then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to score Christopher and make it 2-0.
 
Hillard got the third out looking at a called third strike, and that was all the damage he and Dugan allowed. The Nats got just one more runner as far as second base.
 
Meanwhile, the AL generated a run with two outs in the top of the second. Blake singled and went to second on an error; then he stole third.
 
That’s when a pitch got away from NL catcher Seth Aitken, allowing Blake to score and make it 2-1.
 
In the top of the third, Kaden Boehm hit a two-out triple to left and came home when a third strike got to the backstop, allowing John Mullen to reach.
 
Robby Bazinet then worked a walk, and Matt Egan legged out an infield single to load the bases for Blake.
 
Other than the miscues that kept the American League’s two-out rally alive in the third, the Nats’ defense was solid.
 
Starting pitcher Christopher set the tone in the first when he hopped off the mound to field a ground ball and threw out the batter at first from his knees. Walker made a diving catch on a sinking line drive in center field. Aitken caught to foul popups behind the plate, including one that sent him diving into the backstop. And Cook at shortstop turned a 6-3 double play to end the sixth inning.
 
“I love my defense,” Pittsfield NL Manager Jermaine Sistrunk said. “One of the beautiful things about these guys is we’re able to switch our infield according to our pitchers, switch our outfield according to our pitchers. That’s kind of key around here.
 
“Without the mistakes, my infield is a pretty solid infield, and it’s probably one of the best you’re going to see throughout this tournament.”
 
The NL put its mistakes behind it and played error-free ball the rest of the way, but it couldn’t get anything going offensively against Dugan, who came in from right field and looked like one of the better pitchers you’re going to see in the tournament.
 
“We’ve been working with Konnor quite a bit here since the end of the season,” Skutnik said. “And we’ve been confident with the way he’s throwing the ball. He’s starting to spot it a little bit better.”
 
After striking out the side in the fifth around a two-out walk, Dugan fell behind, 3-1, to the first batter he faced in the sixth, drawing a mound visit from Skutnik.
 
“I thought he was overthrowing,” Skutnik said. “I told him: You gotta hit your spots. It doesn’t mean that you have to blow it by somebody. Pitching is hitting spots and letting your defense play.”
 
Dugan came back to strike out the leadoff man. He then allowed a walk, but finished with a strikeout and a groundball to Mullen at third.
 
The Pittsfield AL (2-0) plays Great Barrington on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Clapp Park. The Nats (1-1) follow at noon against Dalton/Hinsdale.
 
Great Barrington improved to 1-1 in the 10/11 tournament on Wednesday night with an 18-5, four-inning win over Dalton/Hinsdale (0-2) at Belanger Park.
 
 
8- to 10-year-old Tournament
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Evan Roccabruna doubled twice and scored twice Wednesday as the Pittsfield National League All-Stars defeated Great Barrington, 12-11.
 
The Nats scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error to get the win.
 
Connor Paronto had two hits and scored twice for the NL.
 
Great Barrington was led by Darius Taliaferro with four hits and a pair of RBIs. Ian Lanoue had three hits and drove in a pair, and August LUf had a pair of hits in the loss.
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