WESTFIELD – Raindrops turned to teardrops for New Englanders Tuesday morning as the final team standing in the Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series, Pittsfield, departed the tournament field.
Janesville (Wisconsin) rallied for a 4-3 over Pittsfield in the Series’ quarterfinal round at Bullens Field. It was the second straight day that a team from the northeast was eliminated from tourney play as Canada upset Westfield a day earlier, ending their run.
“We beat ourselves today – there’s no question about it,” Pittsfield manager Paul Brindle said. “They did not outplay us; they did not outhit us. We just kind of beat ourselves.”
Janesville nearly beat Pittsfield to the first lead of the game.
Janesville threatened early, loading the bases in the first inning with a double from Taye Sihabouth, an Aiden Schenk walk, and a one-out single from Nick Gregg. Pittsfield starting pitcher Damon Pause struck out the next two batters though to end the inning.
Pittsfield came out swinging, and made it stick.
Christian Salzarulo got things going for Pittsfield with a one-out single. Evan Blake blasted a towering double to the left-center field fence. Antonio Scalise followed with a two-run line drive single up the middle. The New England Regional champions led 2-0.
Pittsfield’s opposition soon got even.
With one out, Tyler Horken and Lucas Labugken drew consecutive walks. Sihabouth singled to load the bases. Schenk and Miller drew back-to-back run-scoring walks. With the game now tied, Pittsfield turned to its bag of tricks — the hidden ball trick in particular at second base — to end the threat.
Pittsfield regained the lead in the third with a bases-loaded single from Keegan Crouse through the right side.
Pittsfield had a golden opportunity to add to its lead in the fifth when Salzarulo singled — he was picked off at first base — Evan Blake walked and sole second base, and Scalise hammered a ball to right field. Blake attempted to score on Scalise’s base knock, but was tagged out at home.
It appeared that Blake had slid under the tag at home, but the umpire saw it differently, ruling the base runner out, sending coaches, players and fans from Pittsfield into a verbal tirade.
Late in the game, Janesville went ahead.
Nick Gregg was hit by a pitch to begin the top of the seventh. Gregg advanced to second base on Denver Hughes’ sac-bunt. Charlie Claas was hit by a pitch. A Josh Knuth walk loaded the bases. A wild pitch tied the game. Tyler Horken put the ball in play, resulting in a fielder’s choice at first base, but the go-ahead run scored as a light rain blanketed the field.
“We competed here,” Brindle said. “Every single game was a one-run game whether we won or lost. It shows that we have very good baseball in Pittsfield, very good youth coaches preparing these guys. I think the future is still bright for Pittsfield.”
Notes: The game was originally scheduled to be played late Tuesday, but World Series officials moved the game up early in the day to avoid heavier rains forecasted late in the day. …The World Series semifinals will take place Wednesday at Bullens Field. Janesville will battle Midwest Plains champion Fargo (North Dakota) at 4:30 p.m. Southwest champ Meridian (Mississippi) and Southeast champ Greenville (North Carolina) will square off at 7. …Fargo is the tournament’s last remaining undefeated team (4-0).
Southwest (Meridian, MS) 6, Pacific Southwest (Hawaii Kai, HI) 2
The Meridian boys got things started at Westfield State University’s Bud & Jim Hagan Field by scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning. The Hawaii team responded by scoring one run to tie the game in the top of the third. But, the Meridian team kept the offensive train rolling by scoring three more runs in the bottom half of the third inning, pulling away for good. Both teams plated one run in the fourth inning, with the Meridian team adding on one more in the bottom of the sixth. This brings the Southwest champions from Meridian, MS to Wednesday’s semifinals against Greenville, NC and eliminates the Hawaiian team after a great showing at the tournament this week. Hawaii struggled to get on base, only gathering four hits and one walk throughout the entire game. Caleb Kim, Ryden Docasin, Ala’i Williams and Caleb Okada each had hits with Williams and Kim claiming the RBIs for the Hawaiian offense. Mana Lau Kong started on the mound, going 3 1/3 innings, but could not quite contain the consistent Meridian offense, giving up five runs on seven hits. Caleb Kim came in in relief, finishing the game for Hawaii and contained their opponent’s offense by allowing two hits through 2 1/3 innings. Eight out of nine players collected his for the Meridian offense with Jacob Hostetler adding one more, going 2-for-3 on the day. Hostetler also had three RBIs for Meridian, while Braxton Cornish also had two. Brett Busbea captured one of Meridian’s hits, scoring three runs and walking twice. Busbea was also a stud on the mound for Meridian, throwing 6 1/3 innings before running out of pitches. He scattered three hits, struck out five and only walked one Hawaiian batter. Jake Shelby finished out the game for Meridian, completing the great game for the Southwest champions. Meridian ends up with the win 6-2 over Hawaii to advance to tomorrow’s game. At the end of the game, both teams demonstrated incredible sportsmanship by congratulating each other on a great tournament. Photos were taken with one another and hugs were exchanged between coaches, players and even fans — demonstrating just how kind both these teams are. At the end of the game, one player from each team is selected as the Ron Tellefson “Player of the Game” based on skills and sportsmanship. For Meridian, Brett Busbea was the winner and for Hawaii, Caleb Kim received the award. – Additional game report courtesy of Annalise Eak