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Pittsfield Post 68 Faces Must-Win Game

By Stephen Dravis
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Two days after beating Westfield Post 124 by seven runs, Post 68 looked like a different baseball team on Saturday.
And, in a way, it was.
The Pittsfield squad, already down two starters going into Saturday's district playoff game, was minus two more by the end of a 10-3 loss at Clapp Park.
It was Post 68's first loss of double-elimination play in Bracket B of the District 1-2-3 tournament. Now, the two teams will meet for a third time in five days on Monday evening in Westfield.
On Saturday, Westfield jumped out to a 6-0 lead against a depleted Post 68 roster and hung on behind a strong pitching performance by Matthew Plasse of Westfield State University.
Plasse struck out five, walked one and pitched around five errors in not allowing an earned run for Post 124.
"Our boys were ahead of the ball all day," Post 68 coach Pat Bassi said. "They were hitting the ball off their front foot. They were hitting a lot of ground balls, which is an indication you're ahead of the ball.
"But that kid pitched a good game. He hit his spots. ... I'm a pitching coach, so even if it's opponent, I gotta give him credit. He beat us fair and square."
Post 68 picked up a couple of bad breaks along the way.
The home team was without two players it counted on all summer because of family commitments. Then in the top of the third inning, with Westfield ahead, 2-0, pitcher Steve Witkowski was drilled in the leg by a hot shot up the middle that went for a run-scoring RBI single.
Witkowski stayed in the game but had to leave the mound in the fourth after giving up four more hits, including a double, and three more runs.
Another Post 68 starter, first baseman Josh Bertheaume, had to leave the game when he aggravated an ankle injury during that fourth-inning Westfield rally.
Post 68 got three of its own in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead in half.
Andrew Winston got things started with a leadoff walk, and pair of errors got him home with Post 68's first run of the game and left Mitchell Clary and brian Bonacquisti at second and third, respectively.
Clary came home on a ground ball to the right side of the infield, and Bonacquisti scored on the third Westfield error of the inning to make it 6-3.
Reliever Kyle Card worked around a hit batter to keep Westfield off the board in the fifth, but the floodgates opened in the sixth. Post 124 tacked on four runs against Card and reliever Nick Rufo to put the game out of reach.
That means Monday's game in Westfield is for a berth in the eight-team, double-elimination  Department Championship Tournament, scheduled for July 26-30 in Sudbury.
Bassi likes his team's chances in Monday's rematch -- tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bullens Field.
"At the end of the game, we had a first baseman who got got cut from Taconic High School baseman, a second baseman who got cut from Taconic High School and a kid pitching who played very little," he said. "But that's OK. We'll be fine.
"With Alex Carusotto on the mound, it's a much different story."
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