DiNicola Homer Lifts Pittsfield in Comeback Win as Generals Reach Western Mass
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Marco DiNicola picked the perfect time to hit his team’s first home run.
DiNicola launched the first pitch he saw in the top of the seventh over the fence in right field to score two runs, erase a 2-1 deficit and send the Pittsfield Generals to a 4-2 win over Mount Greylock.
The come-from-behind victory cemented a Western Massachusetts tournament berth for Pittsfield (10-9) in its next-to-last regular season game.
“We didn’t want to go into [Friday’s regular season finale against the Mounties] needing to win it,” DiNicola said. “So it’s good to get it off our shoulders.
“It means a lot to get to Western Mass. We struggled early in the season. To come back from a 3-7 record to now where we’re in Western Mass is great.”
Pittsfield has won seven of its last nine games to punch its ticket for the post-season. None were as dramatic as Wednesday’s.
Mount Greylock struck early with a run in the bottom of the first, and that’s where it stayed through four innings.
In the fifth, the Generals fought back to tie it, but Mount Greylock immediately answered when Eli Ostheimer doubled home Cole Wojtkowski to make it 2-1.
On the mound, Ostheimer was doing a masterful job pitching out of trouble, stranding nine runners through the first six innings.
And Mount Greylock’s defense did its job, making several highlight-reel plays, including a diving catch by center fielder Cole Messina in the top of the second. In the infield, shortstop Wojtkowski, second baseman Dom Paris and third baseman Phil Guest each made tremendous plays to hold Pittsfield down.
DiNicola made sure the biggest hit of the game was one no one could get to.
Pittsfield’s three-run seventh inning started when Jon Halse roped a single to right. That ended the day for Ostheimer (three strikeouts, one walk), and Guest went from third base to the mound.
“I was just looking for a first-pitch fastball,” DiNicola said. “When a reliever comes into the game, you have to expect that they want to get ahead of you 0-1, so I was looking for a fastball. So, I just swung at the first pitch I saw -- fastball right there. It just so happens it went out.”
Guest, who threw five innings on Monday at Monument Mountain, gave it his best shot in a difficult circumstance, Mount Greylock coach Steve Messina said.
“Phil’s on short rest,” Messina said. “It was a tall order to ask of him, but he’s gutsy and he took the ball. It just didn’t work out for us today.”
After the home run celebration subsided, Hayden Harrington (3-for-4) singled and stole second. He went to third on an error and scored on a two-out infield single by Ryan LaPierre to make it 4-2.
Ian Benoit moved from second base to the mound to pitch the bottom of the seventh, retiring the side in order to pick up the save.
Christian Marchbanks got the win, striking out six, walking four and scattering five hits.
“Last Thursday, we kind of threw him in the fire,” Pittsfield coach Seamus Morrison said. “We had some injuries, and we weren’t sure who we were going to start against Thursday against Taconic. We gave him the chance, and, defensively, we didn’t do the job. Fast forward to today, and it was the same issue. We had a couple of injuries, and we didn’t know who we were going to throw until, basically, we got off the bus.
“The one thing that Christian does great is his demeanor on the mound. You don’t know if he’s up or down. And he gave us a great chance to win. I’m happy he got the win and we came through for him.”
Mount Greylock (11-6) hosts Southwick on Thursday before going to Kirvin Park on Friday to face the Generals again.
VIDEO: @phstaconicsport Pittsfield catcher Noah Santos makes a game-ending catch in foul territory on Wednesday at Mount Greylock.
VIDEO: @athleticsmg Mount Greylock third baseman Philip Guest makes an inning-ending play to save a run against Pittsfield on Wednesday. The Generals came back with three runs an inning later to win, 4-2.
VIDEO: @phstaconicsport Marco DiNicola pulls a fastball over the right-field fence for a 2-run HR as Pittsfield rallied in the 7th for a 4-2 win at Mount Greylock, qualifying the Generals (10-9) for the Western Mass tournament on Wednesday.