PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The bottom third of the Post 68 Juniors’ lineup had just one hit to show for nine at-bats going into the bottom of the seventh on Sunday at Buddy Pellerin Field.
But No. 8 hitter Joe Cracolici and No. 9 Zach Hall each earned a walk to spark a two-run rally that gave Post 68 a wild 11-10 win over Greenfield in the district tournament.
Leadoff man Carter Matthews followed the free passes with a bunt single to load the bases, and Joe Traversa reached on an infield error that allowed Hall to scamper all the way around from second base with the winning run.
“Being selective and patient,” Post 68 coach Eric Stone said of walks that got things started. “Zach Hall was actually bunting. But on a sacrifice bunt, you’re pulling back, and if they’re going to walk you, you take the walk.
“That was huge. That set up the inning right there.”
It was an inning that erased Greenfield’s only lead, a 10-9 advantage it took with four runs in the top of the seventh.
Post 68 appeared to have the game well in hand early when it scored three times in the first and four times in the second to take a 7-0 lead for starting pitcher Hunter Potash.
But the game took an odd turn in the top of the third.
After leadoff man Max Charest worked a walk for Post 81, time was called to attend to a severe nose bleed for Post 68 first baseman Cracolici.
Post 68 only had nine players dressed, which meant that Cracolici had to stay in the game, but Stone moved him to right field, brought right fielder Cedric Jones to first base and have Hall and Matthews shift to left-center and right-center, respectively.
“He’s notorious for bloody noses,” Stone said. “I carry napkins in my bag for that reason. But it’s a huge distraction. We basically have to play eight guys. You’ve got to have him on the field, that’s the rule. So we moved him out to right field and put him against the fence while he stopped the bleeding.
“But it’s momentum. They had a huge momentum swing.”
Against Post 68’s eight-man alignment, Greenfield scored three runs to get back in the game.
Post 81 added three more in the top of the fourth, knocking Potash out of the game in the process. Ian Benoit came in from second base and got a double play to retire the side, but the one-time 7-0 laugher was now 7-6.
Post 68 got some breathing room in the sixth when Matthews (4-for-5) led off with a double to start a two-run rally that included Benoit’s second RBI single of the game.
In the seventh, a leadoff single and two-base error in the outfield opened the door to a four-run Greenfield rally. Charest (2-for-4, triple, double, three RBIs) had the big blow with a two-run double and came home on Colin Cloutier’s single to give Greenfield a 10-9 lead.
In addition to Matthews’ 4-for-5 day, Post 68 got three hits apiece from Benoit and Potash.
Benoit got the win on the mound after closing the door in the fourth and going the rest of the way.
“He had some miscues, there were some balls that fell in, but Ian’s a bulldog,” Stone said. “Ian’s our ace. He hadn’t pitched any of this tournament so far because he pitched at Bay States during the week.
“He was going to start tomorrow, but you’ve got to win today before you can get to tomorrow. Ian has always been a bulldog. I’ve coached him for three years. He wants the ball in tough spots, and he’s very competitive.”
The Post 68 Juniors (15-2) play Longmeadow on Monday evening at Wahconah Park Crosby Elementary.
The Post 68 American Legion Seniors beat East Springfield, 7-6, at Forest Park. The Seniors will play East Springfield again on Monday at 5:30 on Pellerin Field.
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