|Pittsfield Putting Perfection on the Line|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
09:52PM / Thursday, August 11, 2022
|Pittsfield Babe Ruth's 13-year-old All-Stars hold a team meeting after last month's shutout win in the championship game of the New England Regional tournament.|
|Pittsfield's players check out the championship plaque after winning the New England Regional last month.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If you want to get to Glen Allen, Va., drive about nine hours south.
If you want to get there as the New England Regional Champions of Babe Ruth Baseball's 13-year-old division, it takes a different kind of drive.
Pittsfield's Babe Ruth All-Stars have the will to win, and they haven't lost yet.
Pittsfield's 13s take an 8-0 record into Friday morning's World Series opener after roaring through the Western Massachusetts state tournament and New England Regional.
Perfection is nothing new for two of the men who lead the squad into the national championship tournament.
"We've had kind of a crazy baseball season, starting for coach [Anthony] Jones and myself with the Pittsfield High JVs," Pittsfield coach Ben Stohr said this week. "We didn't drop a game, and we had some great players. I think that experience of having the pressure on of not wanting to drop anything, we know that's possible if we just keep things simple and play strong, fundamental baseball."
Pittsfield baseball has been tough to beat in recent years -- from the Babe Ruth teams that have preceded this year's squad to recent World Series to the Little Leaguers who regularly advance to the state tournament's final four to the Taconic High School program, which won three state titles in four years, most recently in 2021.
Stohr was not making any predictions heading into the World Series tourney that runs from Friday through Aug. 19. But he also did not sound like a coach who was "just happy to be there," either.
"We're going to be a really tough team to beat because there are a lot of great players in Pittsfield right now, coming up, continuing to come up," Stohr said. "You just want to keep them confident and believing they can beat anybody."
Here is a look back at Pittsfield's road to the 10-team field that begins play on Friday morning:
July 7, Pittsfield 14, Westfield 4
Eddie Ferris went 4-for-4 with a home run and three runs batted in to power Pittsfield's offense, which also got a 2-for-2 day at the plate from Luke Ferguson, who had a double, a pair of RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
Christian Barry and Cam Hillard split time on the mound in a game shortened to five innings, combining to allow just three earned runs.
July 9, Pittsfield 11, Westfield 2
Pittsfield jumped out to an 8-0 lead with a four-run fourth inning that featured a two-run single by Noah Arnold.
Arnold went 2-for-2 in the game. Morrie Fried went 2-for-4 with a double, and Robby Bazinet was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs.
Connor Paronto got the win on the mound with four innings of work, striking out a pair. Fried and Ferguson each pitched in relief.
July 10, Pittsfield 12, Westfield 8
Pittsfield took a 7-0 lead only to saw it disappear with a seven-run rally by Westfield in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fifth, John John Mullen doubled to left to drive in Bazinet and Cam Hillard in a four-run rally to retake the lead.
Jackson Almeida went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the win.
Pittsfield's pitching staff was stretched to the limit with six different players toeing the rubber. Hillard and Goo Stannard each pitched two innings; Barry closed the game with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two.
July 22, Pittsfield 14, New Hampshire 0
Paronto and Hilard combined for a shutout on the mound to open the New England Regional Champioship in Trumbull, Conn. The pair struck out eight and allowed just two hits in a game shortened to five innings.
Fried homered and drove in a pair, and Paronto went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs in 14-hit Pittsfield attack.
July 23, Pittsfield 15, Rhode Island 0
Another shutout -- this time in four innings. Fried threw the first three, striking out five. Hillard finished up to complete a combined no-hitter.
Almeida went 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of doubles and five RBIs, and Fried was 3-for-3 with a double as Pittsfield pulled away late, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the fourth to end the game.
July 24, Pittsfield 17, Trumbull, Conn. 10
The tournament's host team erased a 7-2 deficit with a five-run fifth inning, but Pittsfield scored four in the sixth and five in the sixth to pull away.
Fried again was a major factor, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Brenden Socie also doubled twice.
But the biggest blows came from Almeida, who tripled twice and drove in six runs.
Barry closed the game and got the win on the mound, striking out five, walking five and allowing two earned runs in three innings of work.
July 26, Pittsfield 11, Maine 4
Pittsfield opened up a tie game with a seven-run sixth inning as Paronto hit a two-run single and Ferris hit a two-run double on back-to-back at-bats.
Ferris finished 2-for-4 at the plate, and Barry was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Ferguson, Hillard and Paronto divided up the pitching duties, holding Maine to just one run after the third inning.
July 27, Pittsfield 6, Connecticut 0
A taught two-run game opened up with a four-run Pittsfield seventh inning, but the difference was the pitching of Hillard and Paronto.
Hillard started and struck out seven while allowing just one hit in four innings of work. Paronto came on and gave up three hits and three walks but -- most importantly -- preserved the shutout to send Pittsfield to the World Series.
Barry went 2-for-3 with a triple. Andrew Hammill went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, and Brenden Socie was 2-for-3 in a nine-hit Pittsfield attack.