|Wellesley Edges Pittsfield Americans to End State Tourney Run|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
03:39PM / Sunday, July 31, 2022
|The Pittsfield Americans pose for a team photo after Sunday's 8-7 loss in an elimination game at the State Tournament.|
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- The Pittsfied Little League American Division All-Stars battled to the final out but came up just short in an 8-7, elimination round loss to Wellesley at the state tournament on Sunday.
Wellesley answered grand slam by Pittsfield's Sebastian Herrera with an eight-run rally, but the Americans scored two in the fourth, one in the ffth and loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth before Wellesley reliever Quentin Donoghue was able to close the door.
Wellesley improved to 2-1 in the four-team state tournament and advanced to Sunday afternoon's championship game against Middleboro for a berth in the New England Regional Championship in Bristol, Conn.
Pittsfield American Manager Ty Perrault said he had confidence that his team would be able to respond after Wellesley batted around to take the lead.
"It was only the third inning," Perrault said. "We had finally found some offense. I figured if we could stop the bleeding and kind of chip away, which is what we did down to the last swing, I knew we had a shot.
"They showed a lot of guts to come back off that inning."
Pittsfield American, which scored just two runs in splitting its first two game on Braintree's William Brooks Field, finally hung a crooked number on the board in the bottom of the second on Sunday.
Mario Zerbato got things started with a one-out single to left. Mason Daley and Jack Wendling reached behind him to load the bases.
Wellesley starter Robby Fisher got a strikeout for the second out, but that brought the heavy-hitting Herrera to the dish.
Herrera lauched a 1-1 offering over the fence in rigt-center for Pittsfield's first homer of the tournamet and a 4-0 lead.
After stranding three runners over the first two innings, Pittsfield starter Mason Daley ran into trouble in the third.
Austin Lee hit a two-run single, and Max Fukudome hit a two-run home run to cap an eight-run spurt that also featured the only errors the Pittsfield Americans committed in the game.
Pittsfield answered right back in the bottom of the third.
Aiden Arseneau reached on an infield single and stole second ahead of a single by Zerbato that put runners at the corners with one out. Daley grounded into a fielder's choice to drive in a run and make it 8-5.
Jack Wendling came on to run for Daley and moved up on a wild pitch and scored on when Will Barber reached on an error to get Pittsfield American within two runs.
Zerbato moved to the mound to start the fourth and retired Wellesley in order for the only 1-2-3 inning for either team.
"What we asked him to do was come in and throw strikes and kind of keep them at bay," Perrault said. "And that's what he did, so he did a great job of relief for sure.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ben Sykes reached on a fielder's choice after Herrera's leadoff single, moved into scoring position on a single by Brendan Merwin (2-for-4) and scored when Eli Kritenson reached on a fielder's choice.
Pittsfield American got another lift i the form of Zerbato's leadoff double to start the fifth. Barber was hit by a pitch with one out, and Donoghue got the next hitter to swing at a third strike to bring up the top of Pittsfield's order.
That meant Herrera (2-for-3), and Wellesley showed him the respect of an intetional walk to load the bases. Donoghue got the next hitter to ground out to short, and the threat was erased.
In the sixth, Kirstenson reached on a one-out single, but Donoghue retired the next two hitters to end the game and give his team a rematch with Middleboro, a 13-3 winner when the teams met on Friday night.
"I'm so proud of these guys," Perrault said of his District 1 and Section 1 titlists. "We're talking about a team that did not even win the district as 11-year-olds. So the improvement from last year to this year -- to be the third best team in the state from where they were last year is fantastic."