|Bazinet, Konefal Key Comeback for Pittsfield at Little League State Tourney|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
08:02PM / Saturday, July 31, 2021
|Kevin Konefal doubled in the tying run in the sixth and the winning run in the eighth.|
GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- You could not ask for much more pressure to put on a relief pitcher in a Little League baseball game.
Pittsfield American Division All-Stars Manager Ty Perrault could not have asked for a tougher kid to take the ball.
Robby Bazinet threw 3-⅔ innings of scoreless relief, stranding seven runners as Pittsfield came from behind to beat Middleboro, 7-2, in its final round-robin game at the state 12-year-old tournament.
Kevin Konefal doubled in a run in the top of the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit and doubled in two more runs in the top of the eighth to give the Americans the lead and start a five-run rally.
Bazinet also drove in a run in that rally, capping his day at 3-for-3 with a triple.
Fans of the Pittsfield Americans are used to seeing Bazinet come up big at the plate, but Saturday afternoon he showed them something different.
“I haven’t really faced that kind of pressure before,” Bazinet said. “This was my first time pitching in all-stars. They could have walked it off, but my teammates made great plays. It was amazing.
“I was really excited, because I’ve been wanting to pitch in all-stars. But to come in and have it go to extras, it’s really nerve-wracking.”
Bazinet, one of nine pitchers on the 12-player Pittsfield roster, took the ball from Cam Blake with a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the eighth with Middleboro leading, 2-1.
After giving up a single that put two runners in scoring position thanks to an error, Bazinet got the next batter to pop up to foul territory and got the third out on a fly ball to center to end the threat.
Pittsfield tied it in the sixth inning as Sebastian Herrara led off with a single up the middle and came all the way around to score on Konefal’s double to make it 2-2.
Middleboro put the potential winning run aboard in the sixth with one out, but Ryan Stannard snared a line drive at short for the second out, and Bazinet got the next batter to fly out to left
In the seventh, Middleboro’s Dom Driscoll hit a leadoff double and went to third on a fly ball. After an intentional walk, Bazinet got a strikeout looking and a line drive out to Jack Bellefontaine at third base to keep the game tied at 2-2.
Both teams started the eighth inning with a runner on second base.
Herrera led off for Pittsfield with a single and moved up on a throw to put runners at second and third with nobody out for Konefal.
He doubled to left to make it a 4-2 game. Stannard and Bazinet then singled, the latter driving in Konefal to give Pittsfield a three-run lead. Stannard ended up scoring on a wild pitch that also sent Bazinet to third, and Jon Jon Mullin drove in Bazinet with an RBI groundout to make it 7-2.
Bazinet took the mound in the bottom of the eighth knowing for the first time in three innings, Middleboro could not end the game on one swing of the bat. And he got the first two outs quickly on a fly ball to the outfield and a pop-up to the mound to keep Middleboro’s runner planted at second base.
The next batter reached on an error to put runners at the corners with two out. Bazinet then got Middleboro’s leadoff man to pop up behind home plate, and Christian Barry made the catch against the backstop to end the game.
Barry also started the game with a leadoff home run to left, his second round-tripper in as many at-bats after he ended Friday’s mercy rule game with a three-run shot against Needham.
The next time Barry came to the plate, he drew a walk. And the last two trips, Middleboro’s manager intentionally walked the Pittsfield slugger.
Perrault was not upset to see the 12-year-old Barry get treated like Barry Bonds.
“Now you’ve got a guy with speed,” Perrault said. “I think that was a good move on their part, because he started a little slow in the tournament, but he’s in a zone now with those back-to-back home runs last night and today.
“He gets frustrated when they [walk him], and the crowd does too, but it’s actually a good move, and we trust our hitters behind him. Two-through-six have done a great job all year.”
Blake did a good job on the mound to start the game, too.
An error helped open the door for Middleboro to score two runs in the bottom of the first to erase the lead Barry’s blast gave the Americans.
Blake went on to allow just three more hits and strike out nine in 4-⅓ innings of work for a no decision.
When the Pittsfield starter hit his pitch count maximum in the fifth, Perrault had no trouble making the call to Bazinet with the game on the line.
“First time in the tournament, to throw him in in that situation, he just did a phenomenal job,” Perrault said. “He was throwing strikes and trusting his defense. We couldn’t be more proud of him.
“Pressure doesn’t seem to bother Robby. Actually, he was the perfect kid to bring in for who we had available. He’s just really calm and even keeled, and he can handle the pressure well.”
Pittsfield moves on to Sunday’s noon state championship game against a player to be determined after Saturday’s late game between Needham and Peabody.