PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- It is seventh heaven for the 10-year-old All-Stars from the Pittsfield Little League American Division.
The Pittsfield Americans Tuesday beat Longmeadow, 11-5, to win the Section 1 title, advance to the state tournament and run their all-star record to 7-0 this summer.
Cooper Reed struck out seven in 4-⅓ innings, and Jack Wendling went 3-for-3 with a double, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
Pittsfield, which went 4-0 at the District 1 tournament, knocked off Longmeadow for the second time in three days to win the sectional through the winners bracket.
The Americans scored first in the bottom of the first at Deming Park and built its lead to 4-0 with a three-run second to take command.
The key hit in that second-inning rally, a two-run, pinch-hit single to right by Brennan Lyon.
“I think I mentioned the other day that certain situations call for certain players to come off the bench,” Pittsfield Manager B.J. Jefferson said. “Another example: Brennan Lyon coming off the bench with a line-drive two-RBI base hit.”
Pittsfield amassed 11 hits and took advantage of four walks.
Meanwhile, Reed, Matthew Keegan and Wendling combined to issue just two free passes: a fourth-inning walk from Reed and a hit-batter in the fifth.
“Cooper was an absolute workhorse today,” Jefferson said. “Probably since the first game he started, that’s the best he’s pitched, velocity-wise. He looked loose out there. He looked like he was throwing the ball, wasn’t aiming too many pitches. He was working ahead on batters and throwing early strikes.
“[Not giving up walks] has been the name of our game. One or two walks per game. It limits runs. I’ve come to the conclusion that almost 70 to 80 percent of the time, when batters walk, they end up scoring.”
An infield single by Wendling to lead off the bottom of the first led to Pittsfield’s first run. He stole second, moved up on Aiden Arsenau’s infield single and scored on Reed’s sacrifice fly to center.
In the second, Oren Lewis got things started with a leadoff walk. He got into scoring position when Kydd Kearns reached on a two-out error. Wendling doubled to score Lewis, and Lyon drove in a pair to make it 4-0.
From there, it was all about playing keep away.
Longmeadow got on the board with a pair of runs in the fourth to cut the lead in half. Pittsfield answered with four in the home half to go ahead by six.
Longmeadow scored three in the top of the fifth. The Americans rallied for three of their own to push the lead back to 11-5.
“What we kept trying to do, whatever they did in an inning , we tried to tie or get better,” Jefferson said. “Basically what it boiled down to is winning every inning.”
In the fourth, Arseneau (2-for-4) had the big hit with a two-run single up the middle. In the fifth, Ryan Albuquerque drove in a pair with a single.
Wendling, who went to the hill with a big cushion in the bottom of the sixth, got the leadoff hitter to ground back to the mound and the second man to ground out to short. Then, after Longmeadow’s Jack Walker gave his team a lift with a two-out bomb for a triple, Wendling closed the door by dealing up another ground ball to the left side to end it.
After winning two of there three sectional games at home, the Pittsfield Americans will be road warriors on Saturday, heading east to Andover to play the Section 4 champions in the state tourney.
Jefferson knows what they will be doing between now and then.
“Practice,” he said. “There’s no days off. We’re the hardest working team in the state. I keep telling these guys: No one works harder than us during practice. Mentally, they have to think that. They have to prepare that going in, that they’re the better team, always.
“Whether they are or aren’t, if mentally you go into that game thinking you’re going to win, there’s a good chance you’re going to win.”
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