American battery fuels comeback win

WESTFIELD – Westfield American’s 11- and 12-year-old Little League Baseball All-Stars started their district pool play with style, coming from behind using key pitching and timely hitting to defeat Belchertown Thursday evening at Cross Street.
Joey Dekarski pitched five shutout relief innings while batterymate Connor Medeiros homered to spark the Westfield offense late to lead American to a 5-4 win in eight innings.
“I thought both teams really came out and played hard from the beginning,” said Westfield American head coach Mike Raposo. “They tested our defense from the beginning in the second or third inning. We have some things to work on, but for the first time out it was nice to come out with a win.”
In his first game after helping Moose Club win the Westfield Little League Majors Division Championship nine days ago, Dekarski continued his torrid pitching, entering in the fourth inning in relief of David Tirell and shut down Belchertown’s offense by allowing just four hits, aided by a consistently solid defense behind him.
“David Tirell started off real strong in the first inning,” said Raposo. “Once he came out of the game, I thought Joey was lights out. He wasn’t striking out many guys, but the defense did a great job behind in making the plays. That was huge for us to stay in the game. It really could have gotten away, but he really stemmed the tide a little bit.”
Aside from catching Dekarski behind the plate, Medeiros sparked Westfield’s rally, recording two hits in his final two at-bats. Leading off the sixth inning in his first at-bat since re-entering in the fourth inning, Medeiros smacked the first pitch from Austin Endelos halfway up the hill in center field to tie the score at 4-all during Westfield’s final at-bats.
Two innings later, Medeiros keyed another rally, singling with one out and advancing to second on an Endelos wild pitch to set up the potential go-ahead run for the designated visitors. After Jason Rokosz moved Medeiros to third base on a sacrifice bunt, No. 9 hitter Tobey Barlow hit a bleeder to shortstop, driving in Medeiros and giving Westfield a 5-4 lead.
“We really struggled to hit in the middle innings,” said Raposo. “Connor Medeiros gave us a huge lift with the home run (and) we got a little bit of a rally going. Playing small-ball generated some runs for us. It was great that we could put together a great team effort and generate the runs that we needed and then shut them down at the end of the day.”
After scoring the game’s opening run in the opening frame on a throwing error, Westfield fell behind 4-1 after three innings, fueled by a two-run double from leadoff hitter Tyler Laramee, who would later score on a wild pitch. The designated home team threatened to win in the seventh inning after Matt Bode reached on a single to start the frame, but the Westfield defense buckled down, using a flyout and a groundout to escape the threat.
Westfield’s offense regained some momentum in the fifth inning, pulling within one run with a two-run frame. With one out and runners on first and second, Tirell lined a RBI single to score Jake LaBombard and move Brennan Jarvis to third base. With two out, Jarvis scored on one of three wild pitches from Belchertown starter Owen Raines.
Westfield American returns to Cross Street Saturday afternoon for a 12:30 p.m. matchup with Amherst, who fell Thursday night to Westfield National, 9-2, at Papermill Field.

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