Westfield escapes Vermont

Westfield Babe Ruth 15-Year-Old All-Stars’ Jared Noel (10) zeroes in on a Brattleboro pitch in the opening round of the New England Regionals Friday night at Bullens Field. (Photo by Marc St. Onge)

WESTFIELD – In every facet of sports, or life for that matter, you need a little bit of luck. There are some people who believe you create your own luck.
The Westfield Babe Ruth Baseball 15-Year-Old All-Stars did a little of both, rallying from a 1-0 deficit with a late comeback to slip by Brattleboro (Vermont) 2-1 in a New England Regionals opener on a sultry Friday night at Bullens Field.
A pickoff attempt at third base got away from the third baseman in the bottom of the sixth inning, resulting in two Westfield runs. Jared Noel scored the tying run and Dylan King crossed home plate for the game-winner.
“For them to come out tonight, be down against a very talented pitcher, was just outstanding,” said Westfield Babe Ruth 15-Year-Old manager Jim Cloutier, whose team sputtered to an 0-3 start as 13-year-olds.
It was a much different outcome this time around.
Brattleboro threatened early, loading the bases with a single from Dan Tetrault (the game’s first hit) and walks from Elias Gradinger and Aaron Slade – all with two outs in the second inning. Westfield starting pitcher Joey Calderella recovered nicely though, forcing a ground out to end the threat.
Westfield responded with a base hit of its own in the bottom half of the inning, a lead-off single from Calderella. Calderella got into scoring position by stealing second. Danny Provost followed with a two-out walk. Brattleboro starting pitcher Zinabu McNeice forced a ground out though before the home team could push a run across.
Westfield’s defense made it a bit tougher on Calderella in the fourth, committing two straight errors to put a pair of runners in scoring position but the Whip City’s ace pitcher got out of the jam unscathed.
In the fifth, Brattleboro’s pressure got to Westfield, albeit briefly. A single and two stolen bases put runners in scoring position for Turner Clews, who beat out a slow roller to the left side of the infield for a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth with one out, Noel and King hit consecutive singles to get things going for Westfield. McNeice attempted to pick off Noel at third base, but the ball got away from the Brattleboro third baseman, resulting in the huge turn of events. Two runs scored.
“We were struggling … but we bared down,” said Calderella, who gave up just three hits while striking out five batters through 5 2/3 innings.
Carlos Rodriguez provided an inning and a third of relief. With runners on in the seventh, Rodriguez retired three straight batters (one strikeout, two fly outs) to end the game.
“Me and Carlos were both painting the corners, using the zone to our advantage,” Calderella said. “We just threw hard, stayed in our motion, and got out with a win.”
Cloutier commended Calderella and Rodriguez for their fine pitching efforts, adding, “We got a little lucky. Vermont made a bad mistake, and we capitalized on it. …We’re looking forward to tomorrow. You never know. Maybe we will shock the world.”
In other New England Regional games Friday at Bullens Field, Keene (N.H.) routed North Providence-Smithfield (Rhode Island) 16-1, Norwalk (Conn.) overwhelmed Greater Portland (Maine) 10-0, and Braintree (Eastern Mass.) shut out Pittsfield (WMass) 4-0.

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