|Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13s Take First Loss at World Series|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
11:54PM / Sunday, August 11, 2019
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Three games into the Babe Ruth Baseball 13-year-old World Series, this much is certain: The Pittsfield pitching staff is nearly flawless.
A little bit of good fortune on offense Sunday, and Pittsfield would have a record to match.
Greenville, N.C., scored a run in the first and an insurance run in the seventh to hand Pittsfield a 2-0 loss, its first in pool play at the national championship.
Cam Sime struck out five and stranded 10 runners on base in five innings of work on the mound, but Pittsfield managed just three hits and got just one runner past second base as it slipped to 2-1 in the tournament’s five-team National Division.
On Monday, Pittsfield plays Pacific Northwest champion Spokane, Wash., (1-2) to conclude pool play. The top three teams in the division advance to the bracket play phase that begins on Tuesday.
Under the lights at Bullens Field on Sunday, Pittsfield hit into two line drive outs in the last couple of innings and had a runner thrown out on a bang-bang play at the plate in the bottom of the third. It was shut out for the first time in a tournament where it has just five runs in three games so far.
“I thought tonight, we hit the ball very hard but right at guys,” Pittsfield manager Paul Brindle said. “So I didn’t think we were up there taking bad swings. I didn’t think we were up there swinging at bad pitches. I thought it was one of those games where you hit the ball hard and the baseball gods were against you today.”
A rare miscue by the typically strong Pittsfield defense helped the Southeast Regional champions score the only run they needed in the top of the first.
Collin West’s leadoff single was mishandled in the outfield, allowing him to get to second. He moved up on a ground ball to the right side and scored on a wild pitch.
The North Carolinians ended up loading the bases with two out before Sime registered his first strikeout of the night to end the threat.
He went on to load the bases two more times -- in the second and the fifth -- without allowing a run. In the second, he got a called third strikeout and a fly ball to Damon Pause at third; in the fifth, after intentionally walking the five hitter with first base open, Sime got a fly ball to Evan Blake at short.
That came on Sime’s 96th and final pitch of the night. Blake pitched the final two innings, striking out the side in order in the sixth and allowing a run on a walk, a hit and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Pittsfield’s best chance to tie the game came in the bottom of the third.
Keegan Crouse singled to left to start the inning and stole second ahead of a sacrifice bunt by Walker Abdallah.
That brought up leadoff man Nick Brindle, who hit a ground ball to the left side of a drawn-in infield. Greenville shortstop Alex Popovich fired home, and catcher Davis Hathaway blocked the plate and put a tag on Crouse for the second out of the inning.
In the fourth inning, Blake drew a leadoff walk and moved up on a grounder by Antonio Scalise. But Blake could not advance any further, and Pittsfield had just one more baserunner the rest of the way against Greenville’s Colin Woolard (three hits, five strikeouts, two walks).
Sunday’s loss drops Pittsfield into a tie with Greenville atop the National Division. Both are 2-1, a game ahead of third-place Hawaii Kai, which is finished with pool play at 2-2. Pittsfield has the head-to-head tie-breaker over Hawaii Kai and Centre County, Pa., (1-2), which plays Greenville on Monday.
Brindle said he plans to send Game 1 starter Blake back to the hill to start Monday’s 1 p.m. game against Spokane (1-2).
“We have a great pitching staff,” Brindle said. “We’re a low-scoring team. We always have been. At this level, you’re in the World Series. You’re not facing terrible pitching. You’re always getting someone that’s pretty good. And tonight, I thought their pitcher did a great job.
“Blake will pitch [Monday], and, in reality, that lines us up well for the playoffs because we potentially have [Christian] Salzarulo and Blake, semi-final and final, hopefully.”