GLEN ALLEN, Va. — Connor Paronto was in the zone on Thursday night at Glen Allen Stadium.
The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Star allowed just three hits in a complete-game, 6-1 win over Fargo, N.D., in the semi-finals of the World Series.
Pittsfield earned a place in Friday afternoon's Championship Game against the Pacific Southwest Regional Champs from Hawaii, a winner over Williamsport, Pa., on Thursday.
Jackson Almeida and Morris Fried each doubled, and John John Mullen had a big two-run hit late as Pittsfield scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-0 lead.
Paronto struck out just three in the victory.
He was not dominant— just effective.
“Unbelievable,” Pittsfield Manager Ben Stohr said. “You can’t draw it up any better than that. Because it’s a team game.
“Connor went out there, and it was mostly fastballs, and we told him, ‘Just like you’ve been doing it all year. Trust your defense.”
Paronto's trust was well placed.
Pittsfield committed a couple of errors in the game, but it more than made up for that with a pair of double plays by the middle infield of Christian Barry and Ryan "Goo" Stannard and a web gem by Paronto himself.
He speared a hard comebacker to the mound to deny a sure base hit in the top of the sixth with Pittsfield clinging to a 3-0 lead.
"I don't know," he said. "it was kind of scary. But it was alright."
Pittsfield's offense was more than alright late, when it made up for some misfires in the early going.
The New England Regional Champions left five runners on in the first three innings despite scoring a run in each inning to build a 3-0 lead.
In the fifth, the frustrations mounted when Pittsfield twice had runners at first and third, twice attempted delay double steal plays and twice had a runner called out at home plate to let the scoring opportunity go by the boards.
Finally, Robby Bazinet and Mullen delivered big RBIs from the bottom of the batting order in the sixth to give Paronto a working margin.
"That felt really good," Paronto said. "Our team hasn't been hitting a lot lately. Finally we broke out a little tonight, started hitting the ball, scoring a lot more. It felt good."
Pittsfield did not need a hit to score the game's first run in the bottom of the first.
Eddie Ferris reached on a one-out walk, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball before scoring on an error.
In the second, Andrew Hammill reached on an error, went to second on a Brenden Socie's sacrifice bunt, advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Mullen reached on an error to make it 2-0.
Fried hit a one-out double in the third. He then moved up on a ground ball and scored on ground ball from Paronto to make it 3-0.
Meanwhile, the Midwest Plains Regional Champions had their best offensive threat in the top of the third.
A hit batter, a walk and an error loaded the bases with one out. But Paronto got a fly ball to Stannard at second and a ground ball to shortstop Barry, who touched second to end the inning.
That play came in between a pair of 6-4-3 double plays in the second and the fourth.
"A few double plays up the middle, Christian played out of his mind at shortstop, we really looked like we belonged today," Stohr said.
Pittsfield pretty much put the game out of reach with its three-run sixth inning.
Luke Fergson got things started with a single down the left field line. Hammill then walked and Socie reached on an error before Bazinet hit a pinch-hit infield single to bring Ferguson home.
Mullen (2-for-3) then delivered a two-run single to left as Socie raced home to beat the throw and give his team a 6-0 lead.
Fargo scratched out a run in the top of the seventh, but Paronto got a game-ending fly ball to Ferris in center field to end it.
Pittsfield improves to 4-1 at the World Series and 12-1 since the start of the All-Star season in July. on Friday at 1 p.m., it puts those records on the line against a Hawaii team that went 4-0 in pool play here in Glen Allen and is 5-0 at the series with Thursday's semi-final win.
"They've been battling," Stohr said. "They've been battling all year. I can't even put into words how proud of these guys we are. We set a goal, a pretty lofty goal, to be in this game tomorrow. And, why not us? We've been fighting hard all summer and working so hard to get to this moment.
"They earned it. I'm so proud of these guys."
: Pittsfield’s Paronto Reacts to World Series Semi-Final Win