|Pittsfield Americans Win 10-Year-Old District Crown|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
06:28PM / Saturday, July 10, 2021
|The Pittsfield Little League American Division 8- to 10-year-old All-Stars celebrate their district title on Saturday in Great Barrington.|
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- The 10-year-old All-Stars from the Pittsfield Little League American Division redefined dominance in Saturday’s Don Gleason District 1 Championship Game.
The Americans scored more than twice as many runs as its opponent had plate appearances in a 23-1 win over Dalton-Hinsdale to advance to the state sectional tournament.
Pittsfield pounded out 13 hits and batted around three times -- including twice in the same inning.
But all that offense was superfluous with a lights-out pitching performance from the tandem of Cooper Reed and Jack Wendling.
Reed struck out five in two innings of work and allowed just one unearned run before turning the ball over to Wendling with a 22-run lead. Wendling got the first two batters he faced on ground balls before getting a swinging third strike to end the game.
“Our pitching staff, even in their house league, they continue to throw strikes non-stop, and it was nice to see them coming in and doing the job, getting the job done,” Pittsfield Americans manager B.J. Jefferson said.
“Cooper threw just 20-some-odd pitches today. All year long, he just comes in and pounds the strike zone. Jack is the same way. They come in, they throw strikes, they make kids swing the bat. At this level, if you limit the walks, limit the errors, you have a real good chance of winning a lot of ballgames.”
The Pittsfield Americans won three games against no losses to advance to Saturday’s district title game. On Thursday evening, they are scheduled to open sectional play at home at Deming Park.
While Pittsfield limited its errors to two on the same play to allow the only Dalton-Hinsdale run, the Americans’ offense took advantage of five miscues and 12 free passes to make the most of its 13 hits.
They scored the only runs Reed needed in the top of the first.
Wendling started the game with a single up the middle, and Ryan Albuquerque followed with a walk. Aiden Arseneau’s infield single loaded the bases with nobody out for Reed, who reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Albuquerque but plated Wendling to make it 1-0.
After Arseneau came home on a pitch that got to the backstop, Matt Keegan reached on an error that also allowed Reed to score to make it 3-0.
Dalton-Hinsdale starter Ryan Shove stymied that rally with back-to-back strikeouts to keep it a three-run game, but Pittsfield exploded for eight runs in the top of the second.
Wendling, Reed and Jake Welch each had an RBI single, and Kydd Kearns drove in a pair of runs with a single to left during that rally.
Dalton-Hinsdale’s Jack Furlong led off the bottom of the second with the first hit allowed by Reed, a single to the left side. A pair of errors on the play allowed Furlong to come all the way around to make it an 11-1 game.
The designated home team looked to capitalize on that momentum when Evan Charter followed with a double to center field. But Reed struck out the next three in order to leave Charter at second.
And the Americans scored 12 runs in the top of the third to put the game completely out of reach.
Kearns went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored, and Wendling was 3-for-4 with a walk, three RBIs and three runs scored at the leadoff spot for the Americans.
Jefferson, who is in his first year as a Little League manager, credited his colleagues in the Pittsfield program with giving him players who were ready to excel in the post-season.
“For most of the kids, it’s their first all-star experience,” Jefferson said. “You’ve got to give credit to the house league coaches for preparing these kids all season long to get them to this point.”