GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Stars Friday came back from an early three-run deficit to earn a 6-5 win over the Mid-Atlantic Champions from Williamsport, Pa., in their first game at the World Series.
"It was a little nerve-wracking," Pittsfield Manager Ben Stohr said. "But it felt good to get that first one."
Connor Paronto and Cam Hillard combined to allow just five hits, and Hillard left the bases loaded in the pivotal fifth inning to preserve the lead before shutting out the Pennsylvania State Champs over the next two innings.
Jackson Almeida went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs to lead Pittsfield's offense, which rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 6-4 lead.
Ryan "Goo" Stannard got the winning rally going with a leadoff walk.
With one-out, Eddie Ferris singled to left to put runners on first and second.
Morrie Fried then reached on an error that loaded the bases.
Almeida hit a two-run single to drive home Stannard and Ferris, giving Pittsfield a 5-4 lead and putting Fried in scoring position.
He moved up to third on Andrew Hammill's single that loaded the bases.
Luke Ferguson was then hit by a pitch to bring home Noah Arnold, who pinch ran for Fried.
In the bottom of the fifth, Hillard took the hill in relief of Paronto.
Pennsylvania worked three straight walks to load the bases with nobody out, and the next batter grounded out to Stannard to second to drive in a run on a fielder's choice and make it 6-5.
Hillard got the next hitter to swing at a third strike, but Zion Hughes worked a two-out walk to reload the bases.
But Hillard left them full by getting a first-pitch groundout to Stannard to end the inning.
"I think both of [Paronto and Hillard] didn't have their best stuff to start, but once they got settled in and kept things rolling, they got in a groove," Stohr said. "They had the experience in regionals where things weren't going their way.
"[Hillard] was right around the strike zone. He wasn't missing by much. But he fought through it and had the defense behind him. that took a lot of guts."
Pennsylvania got a leadoff walk in the sixth and a two-out walk in the seventh, but Hillard closed the door both times.
Pittsfield started the game by using its speed on the basepaths to manufacture a run.
Christian Barry and Ferris started the game with back-to-back walks, and Barry stole third.
After Briar Persing got the first of his seven strikeouts, a wild pitch allowed Barry to come home to give Pittsfield a 1-0 lead.
"We try to tell the guys to keep it simple and focus on the inning at hand," Stohr said. "Scraping one across in the first despite not getting a hit felt good."
Pennsylvania struck back with four runs on three hits and a couple of Pittsfield errors in the bottom of the first.
"They were ready to smash the ball pretty good, and all of a sudden it's 4-1 pretty quick," Stohr said. "But our guys stayed focused. They knew we weren't going to score just one run."
Pittsfield got two back in the top of the fourth.
Almeida got things started with a leadoff double, and Ferguson drew a one-out walk. A fly ball left runners at second and third with two out, and Brenden Socie walked to load the bases.
Robby Bazinet then hit a two-run double to drive in Almeida and Ferguson and make it 4-3, Pennsylvania.
"Bazinet is someone who didn't get a lot of runs in the regional tournament, but he has been working hard ever since in the cage," Stohr said. "He's a difference maker."
Another difference for Pittsfield was Pennsylvania's decision to pull Persing with one out and Almeida on third in the top of the fourth.
"He had good stuff," Stohr said. "He was throwing hard. I think he was having some trouble with command with the curve ball. Our guys were making him work. We had some strikeouts, but we got his pitch count up. I think their coach made a decision to keep him available.
"Once the relievers came in, there was a little bit of a velocity difference, and they made an adjustment."
Pittsfield takes a 1-0 record in pool play into Saturday's off day. It's next game is Sunday at 4 p.m. against the Virginia State Champions from Manassas.
Stohr said the opening win will make the team's one day off at the tournament a little more enjoyable.
"It definitely does," he said. "We have the field to practice on tomorrow. I think it's around 10 we have the field. We'll keep it light, do some defensive work. Then I think they're going to an amusement park. Coach and I might be skipping that fun to do some scouting work."
iBerkshires.com's coverage of the Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series is sponsored by General Dynamics.
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