|Hard-Working Americans Edged in Little League State Final|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
02:18PM / Sunday, August 01, 2021
|The Pittsfield Little League American Division 12-year-old All-Stars accept their runner-up medals at the state championship on Sunday.|
GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- One rough inning cannot wipe away one glorious month.
But it can help bring that month to an end.
Peabody West scored five times in the top of the second to erase an early deficit and went on to a 6-5 win over the Pittsfield Little League American Division 12-year-old All-Stars in Sunday's state championship game.
James DiCarlo went 3-for-3 with a three-run double and made a couple of stellar plays at shortstop to send Peabody on to the New England Regional Championship, one step away from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., later this week in Bristol, Conn.
Pittsfield Manager Ty Perrault said his Americans, who thrilled their faithful with district and sectional tournament wins and went 3-0 in pool play at this week's state tournament, showed the hearts of the champions they are to rally after going down 5-2 midway through the second.
"They didn't give up, and they weren't going to give up until the final out," Perrault said.
"When we came off the field, we were a little bit down for an inning or two. But we got 'em back up, and they rallied back and never gave up. They hit the ball hard.
"Peabody made a lot of great plays. That's baseball."
Less than 24 hours after Middleboro's defense gave Pittsfield fits in an eventual extra-inning win for the Americans to conclude pool play, Peabody was even tougher, right down to the game's last out.
Third baseman Brendan Kobierski grabbed a line drive to help cut Pittsfield's first-inning rally short. Right fielder Gabriel Casiano made a snow cone catch in the third. And DiCarlo snared a line drive to end the fourth and another, off the bat of Pittsfield's most dangerous hitter, to end the game.
"It was just like last night," Perrault said. "At this level, you're going to see that type of play. But I don't know if I've ever seen this many stellar defensive plays in one tournament."
There was no defense against Christian Barry in his first at-bat.
The Pittsfield slugger homered to straightaway center field to lead off the bottom of the first and give his team a 1-0 lead.
Cam Blake then singled and went to second on a rare Peabody throwing error. Kevin Konefal brought Blake home with a single up the middle. But Peabody ended the inning on a double play by first baseman Mark Bettencourt, who fielded a line drive off the bat of Ryan Stannard and doubled off Konefal.
Feeding off the momentum from that big defensive play, Peabody West rallied for five in the top of the second to take a 5-2 lead.
The bottom of Peabody's lineup worked a couple of walks ahead of an RBI single from Casiano. And DiCarlo had a bases-loaded double in the rally.
Pittsfield starting pitcher Sebastian Herrera settled down after that, striking out the side in order in the third to right the ship on his way to an eight-strikeout performance.
"In warm-ups, he was right on, he was ready to go," Perrault said. "First inning, he cruised. Second inning, he ran into a little bit of a problem. But he gathered himself, made some good pitches, struck some guys out and got us into the sixth inning."
Pittsfield's offense got one run back in the second when Sam Glockner reached on an error that allowed Micah Roberts to score to make it 5-3.
After Peabody scratched out a run in the top of the fourth to push it back to a three-run margin, the Americans scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to make it a one-run game.
Robby Bazinet got things started with a leadoff single. Dakota Moore's one-out double put himself and Sam Glockner (inserted as a special pinch runner for Bazinet) into scoring position.
Jack Bellafontaine and Barry followed with back-to-back singles to make it a 6-5 game.
But the next hitter grounded into a fielder's choice, and DiCarlo robbed Herrera of a sure base hit on a line drive to end the inning.
The Americans managed just one more base-runner the rest of the way against Peabody's Colin Pastoirek, who went the distance on the mound to earn the win.
Perrault summed up Pittsfield's trip to the state championship game with two words: effort and depth.
"I think we were all surprised by how successful they were," Perrault said of the Americans' squad. "But the work ethic and the attitudes in practice of wanting to be there -- never once did they say, 'We don't want to practice today.'
"That's what got them here. Because, going in, we probably weren't the most talented team, but they just played together. The thing I want to stress is it was all 12 kids. Yeah, we had a star. Christian [Barry] is a very special player. But it wasn't a one-man show. It was a 12-man show."