Purple Reigns: Fick Leads Pittsfield Past Wahconah

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. -- One of the hardest hits Sam Fick suffered on Thursday afternoon was the ball he fouled off his own leg in the top of the seventh inning at Wahconah.

Fick walked it off, stayed in the game and made a stellar defensive play in the bottom of the seventh to secure his complete-game, 2-1 victory for Pittsfield’s first win of the year.

“It’s gonna be hurtin’ in the morning, but it’s OK,” Fick said of the bruise to his plant leg.

On Thursday, Fick put a hurtin’ on Wahconah’s offense, scattering seven hits and holding the home team scoreless through five innings.

He took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning, but Wahconah (2-2) battled back with singles by Gage Frazier and Cam Taylor. Frazier was erased trying to go to third on Taylor’s single thanks to a strong throw by right-fielder Gabriel Coyne, but Taylor advanced on the throw to third to put a man on second with one out.

After Fick got out No. 2 on a bounce back to the mound, Wahconah had a man on third with two out for Austin Cancilla.

Cancilla bunted a 1-2 pitch down the third-base side, but Fick sprung from the mound, grabbed the ball and fired a strike to Matt Newton at first to retire the side.

“It was 0-2 his first try doing it, putting down the bunt,” Fick said of Cancilla, who just missed bunting for a base hit leading off the sixth. “He almost caught me off guard, but I was able to make the play. This time [in the seventh], I was ready for it, and I was able to go over, pick it up and make the play.

“Still a pretty good bunt, though. I’ve got to hand it to him. Twice in a row on two strikes? That’s pretty ballsy.”

First-year Pittsfield coach Seamus Morrison, whose team lost two games by a combined three runs and had a game suspended by darkness prior to Thursday’s win, was thrilled with the performance Fick delivered.

“I can’t say enough about Sam,” Morrison said. “He fouls the ball off his leg in the top of the seventh and comes out in the bottom and gives up a couple of hits but never waivered. He stayed strong for us. And he was the ace that we needed today.”

The Generals (1-2) could not generate much in the way of offensive support for their ace.

Will Genaway held Pittsfield hitless through four innings. In the fifth, Fick drew a one-out walk and moved up on Simon Nassif’s single to right.

Matt Newton drew a walk to load the bases for Griffin Manns, who hit a bleeder up the middle that took a bad hop at second base and was just enough to score Jalen Coyne (running for Fick) and Nassif to make it 2-0.

“It’s going to be pretty repetitive, but our strong points are going to be pitching, defense and speed,” Morrison said. “We need to maximize our opportunities when we get guys on. And we have to execute, whether it be hit-and-run, bunt, sacrifice, bunt for a hit. And we have to push runs across when we get guys on.”

Wahconah cut Pittsfield’s narrow lead in half in the bottom of the sixth when Ty Cowdrey singled up the middle, moved up to third Andrew Beaudoin’s single and scored on Matt Schneider’s single down the third base line.

The gems pitched by Genaway and Fick were punctuated by strong defensive plays throughout, including runners gunned down at second by each catcher (Schneider and Pittsfield’s Austin Houghtaling), a pair of outfield assists (from Gabe Coyne and Wahconah right fielder Shane Sinopoli) and a double play by Wahconah to retire the side in the top of the seventh.

And for the second time in six days, Wahconah rallied late but came out on the short end of a narrow decision -- a coincidence not lost on its first-year coach, Rob Cowdrey.

“Without a doubt, this is one of the most fun teams I’ve been a part of,” Cowdrey said. “We have a never-give-up attitude. No matter what the score is, they just keep fighting. They’ve got that heart that you always want to see.

“I stand behind those guys. You never want to have a loss, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a fun game to be a part of.”

Wahconah is home Saturday for a four-team tournament with McCann Tech, Monument Mountain and Hoosac Valley. Pittsfield is at Cathedral on Saturday.

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