WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Liam Nolan was not supposed to even take the hill for the Pittsfield Post 68 American Legion baseball team on Monday night.
When he did, he nearly took his team to a District title.
Nolan struck out six, gave up four hits and surrendered just one earned run, but Westfield Post 124 scratched out a run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 win over Post 68 in the final game of the double-elimination District 1-2-3 tournament.
"He was pitching on short rest, 3-1/2 days rest," Post 68 coach Pat Bassi said. "We were actually planning on pitching [Alex] Carusotto tonight, but Liam volunteered to pitch tonight. He said, 'My arm is fine.'
"Because we're missing two of our starters -- most notably our shortstop -- we thought it would be best if we kept Alex at shortstop. As it turned out, we only scored two runs. We didn't hit. Their pitchers shut us down."
Westfield's Matt Plasse beat Post 68 for the second time in three days, this time striking out three and scattering five hits in five innings of work.
On Saturday, with Westfield facing its season's end, Plasse went the distance to beat Pittsfield 10-3 at Clapp Park.
On Monday, Plasse got two innings of relief from Brett Houle and a whole lot less run support.
Westfield scored an unearned run in the top of the first, but Post 68 came back to tie it in the fourth.
Mitch Clary singled, stole second base, moved up on a fielder's choice and scored on Joe Dewey's liner up the middle.
Pittsfield nearly had an other run in the inning, but Westfield's first baseman fielded a ground ball and gunned down a runner trying to score from third on a bang-bang play.
Post 68 threatened to take the lead in the top of the fifth when Nolan got a leadoff single off of Plasse. Pinch-hitter Kyle Card reached on a fielder's choice, moved up on a wild pitch and took third on a ground ball to the right side. But Plasse recovered to get the third out swinging on a high fastball for what ended up being his last pitch of the night.
In the bottom of the fifth, Westfield used a two-out base hit by Colin Dunn to spark the winning rally. Two walks loaded the bases, and Nolan hit Houle to bring in the go-ahead run.
Post 68 got something going against Houle in the sixth.
Mitch Clary drew a leadoff walk and stole second base, but Houle got a swinging third strike for the first out and then a great play by his defense to retire the side: a 9-6-5 double play that started on a flyball to right and ended with Clary being called out at third attempting to move up on the play.
Houle struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh inning to end Post 68's season.
"We had a great season," Bassi said. "We were 15-3 altogether. How can you complain about that?
"They're a great bunch of kids to coach. Most of them, I coached in Babe Ruth and All-Stars. They've come up the ranks with me."