PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- It is a sign of how good this Pittsfield Little League American Division All-Stars team is that it took a three-run sixth inning to extinguish all hope in an eventual 8-0 season-ending loss on Sunday afternoon.
But Holden got that three-spot, in part because of a two-run single by Sam Perry, to wrap up a convincing win in the championship game of the Section 1 10- to 12-year-old Massachusetts tournament.
Until he singled to right to cap that three-run rally, a dangerous Americans team was still very much alive -- even with just three outs remaining.
“Because this team -- they always fight, they don’t give up,” Pittsfield coach Matt Stracuzzi said. “LIke I said in my little [post-game] speech, they’re not better than us. They were just better today.
“And give them credit because they made every single play. I think they made one error.”
Holden came back from a back-and-forth loss at Deming Park against the Americans on Saturday to end pool play.
But there were no other kinds of comebacks on Sunday after the visitors hung three runs on the board in the top of the first inning.
Alex Zekos led off the game by dropping a double into left field, and three of the next four Holden hitters reached base safely.
On the third hit, an outfield error allowed two unearned runs to come home against Pittsfield starter Jason Codey.
Codey lasted into the fifth inning, striking out six, before having to leave the mound due to his pitch count.
“I thought he pitched really well,” Stracuzzi said. “The one thing … was they got his pitch count up. We got behind some batters, but that was because we were trying to work around guys and trying to get them to go after our pitches. Give them credit. They didn’t do it.
“But if we didn’t make those errors in the first inning, I think [Codey], you know, he settled down after that.”
Codey retired nine straight Holden hitters before a single up the middle in the top of the fourth touched off a two-run rally.
Meanwhile, Perry rolled through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners. One of those was erased on a first-inning double play by Holden.
Pittsfield finally got its first hit in the bottom of the fourth. With one on and one out, Jack Reed dropped a single into right to put runners at the corners.
But Perry got the next two hitters on a pop-up to second and a line drive right at the center fielder.
In the fifth, Anthony Hill doubled with one out, but the Americans could not advance him.
In the sixth, needing eight runs to stay alive, Pittsfield got an infield single from Simon Mele with one out before Perry struck out the next two.
Holden moves on to carry the Section 1 flag into the state tournament, where it will vie for a berth in the New England Regional in Bristol, Conn.
Although the Pittsfield Americans’ saw their season come to an end, Stracuzzi told his players that they have plenty to look forward to in years to come.
“I think that they really enjoy playing with each other as teammates,” he said. “I really believe that. They’re a close-knit group during the [house league] season, even though they’re on separate teams. But once we came together, they just had a lot of fun playing baseball together.
“Like I told these kids, this hurts today, and it should. But I use a quote that I learned a long time ago: If this is the worst thing that’s happened to these kids, man, they’re going to have a great life.”
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