Wachusett Tops Pittsfield in Battle of Unbeatens
WORCESTER, Mass. -- With Pittsfield and Wachusett each undefeated headed into Tuesday's Division 1 state semi-final, something had to give.
The Generals gave up a little too much in the field, and the Mountaineers' Courtney Lanpher did not give up much in the circle as her squad earned a 10-2 win and a berth in Saturday's state championship game.
Wachusett (24-0) took advantage of five Pittsfield errors to hang seven unearned runs on starter Giulliana Pierce. Meanwhile, Lanpher allowed just two hits until the sixth, when the Generals (22-1) scored both their runs to cut into a 10-0 deficit.
Pittsfield coach Greg Marchbanks said that sixth-inning rally, while it did not effect the outcome of the game, spoke a lot for his team's character.
"That's huge right there," he said. "You start getting down, and they hadn't been down a whole lot. You're trying to get them up and continue to believe in themselves. They feel like they're letting everybody down. There's a lot of pressure on them, and we're trying to get them to overcome.
"And they put some runs up there. They started believing a little bit."
Jordyn Lummus got Pittsfield's rally started with a leadoff walk and went to second when Britney Perkett reached on an error on the right side of the infield.
Natasha Shade then singled through a drawn-in infield on the left side. Lummus scored all the way from second without the ball getting to the outfield grass, and Shade alllowed herself to get hung up between first and second, allowing Perkett to score from first on the play.
"I heard Britney coming out of the outfield [on defense] saying, 'Why is everybody down?' " Marchbanks said. "We're trying to keep them up, but it can't come from us. It's got to come from within. And they started talking and believing. Then they started putting it together.
"If they think that way from the beginning of the game, it's a whole different game. Unfortunately, it took us a little too long to get into that frame of mind."
Wachusett jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when its leadoff hitter reached on an error, moved up on a sac bunt and scored on a double by Emily Todorov (2-for-3, two RBIs).
Todorov advanced on a wild pitch and came home on Erin Hancock's single up the middle to make it 2-0.
The Mountaineers broke the game open with a seven-run fourth inning. Again, an error early in the inning helped set the stage, but Todorov contributed an RBI triple, and Ellie Moore drove in two runs with a double.
Hancock hit a solo home run in the fifth to cap Wachusett's scoring.
Pittsfield was hitless until Pierce singled up the middle in the third, but she did not advance. Likewise, Briana Clary doubled to lead off the fifth but stayed there.
Lanpher struck out seven and walked two while allowing four hits in the win.
"We haven't faced anything like [Lanpher] this year," Marchbanks said. "That's why it's always tough when you don't get to face a whole lot of pitchers who are like that during the year, and you see 'em in this.
"We practiced two days with me throwing probably a little harder than that. But she's a good pitcher. She hit her corners and mixed it up. She did a good job."
In addition to the experience of facing the best pitcher Central Mass has to offer, Pittsfield benefited from the experience of just getting to the next stage of the tournament. Although Pittsfield has a lot to replace, losing Pierce, Perkett and catcher Hayley Tobin to graduation, the younger Generals will be able to put this year's experience to use down the road.
"Our seniors and the ones before them set a foundation," Marchbanks said. "They solidified it with a Western Mass Championship. Now, we've been here, we've tasted it. We know what it takes. We know what the trip's like. There's a lot of things that build up to it. Now they've tasted it."