|Hillard, Pittsfield 13s Win, Claim Top Seed for Bracket Play|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com |
06:06PM / Tuesday, August 16, 2022
|Cam Hillard, right, is recognized as Pittsfield's player of the game after Tuesday's win.|
GLEN ALLEN, Va. — Cam Hillard hit a two-run, go-ahead single in the top of the fourth and split time with Connor Paronto in a 7-4 win for the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Stars on Tuesday afternoon.
With the win over the Pacific Northwest Champions from Wilamette Valley, Ore., Pittsfield finished pool play with a record of 3-1 and grabbed the top seed out of the tournament's five-team National Division.
That means a day off when bracket play begins on Wednesday and a bye into Thursday's championship semi-final.
One day after being no-hit in its only loss of the all-star season, Pittfsfield responded with nine hits on Tuesday, including a double by Morris Fried that led to an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning.
"We probably took our anger out from the game [Monday]," Hillard said of Pittsfield's offensive turnaround. "We played our hardest."
Hillard, who started and went 3-one-third innings, and Paronto combined to strike out seven while scattering nine hits for the Oregonians.
They also stranded 10 runners, including a big bases-loaded opportunity that went by the board for Wilamette Valley in the bottom of the third.
The Oregon squad, playing its second game of the day, got the leadoff man on to start the inning. The next hitter reached on a two-base error.
After Hillard struck out Wilamette Valley's No. 1 hitter, the next batter walked, and Pittsfield's second error of the inning allowed in the game's first run and left the bases loaded with one out.
Hillard then got the next two batters looking at called third strikes to keep it a 1-0 game.
"I was more focused on throwing strikes than velocity during that," Hillard said. "Some pitches I did [throw harder], and some pitches I didn't."
Perhaps riding the momentum of those back-to-back Ks, Pittsfield came out and took the lead in the top of the fourth.
It started when Andrew Hammill reached on an error with one out. Paronto then walked, and another Oregon error — this one with two out — loaded the bases for Hillard.
He laced a single into center field to drive in Hammill and Paronto and give Pittsfield a 2-1 lead.
"it was awesome," Pittsfield Manager Ben Stohr said. "He was a much-deserved Player of the Game there. It's awesome to see.
"We tell him, it's obviously his pitching that got us here, and he's gonna hit when he's pitching. So, just don't get cheated. Hit it hard somewhere and try to have fun. He came up a couple of times with runners on, and to see him come through like that was huge.
"It really was a big difference maker, and I think it kind of helped swing the game."
Ryan "Goo" Stannard kept the inning alive by earning a walk, and Christian Barry hit a single to left to drive in Socie and make it 3-1. Unfortunately for Pittsfield, Hillard was cut down at the plate attempting to score on the play to end the rally.
But Pittsfield never relinquished the lead.
Oregon struck for a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-2, but Pittsfield rallied for three more in the top of the fifth.
Eddie Ferris walked, moved up on a balk and a groundout and scored on an RBI to right from Jackson Almeida (2-for-4, two RBIs).
With two out, Paronto singled to right to drive in Almeida, who just beat the tag. Paronto then stole second and scored on an RBI single from Socie to make it 6-2.
Wilamette Valley scored two in the bottom of the fifth to stay within striking distance, but Pittsfield tacked on a run in the top of the seventh to give Paronto some breathing room.
Fried (2-for-4) led off with and a double, and John John Mullen came in to pinch run. Mullen came around to score on a pair of wild pitches to make it a three-run lead headed to the bottom of the seventh.
After giving up a leadoff double down the line in left, Paronto retired the next three hitters in order, ending the game on a fly ball to Stannard at second base.
"I think my curveball was pretty good today," Paronto said. "I struck out a couple of kids with that."
As a team, Pittsfield continues to show that it is pretty good, too. And now it gets to reap some rewards.
"We'll let 'em sleep in a little bit [on Wednesday]," Stohr said. "We're going to come down as a coaching staff and check out the games, obviously.
"And we'll try to find a high school field or somewhere local where we can get a practice in. Keep them loose. We've had a few times here where we thought it was gonna be our last practice, and these guys just keep it rolling. We'll embrace that and have a nice fun day."
: Pittsfield’s Hillard Talks About His Day on the Hill
: Pittsfield’s Paronto Talks Offensive Turnaround
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