|Pittsfield Americans Win Opener at Little League Regional|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
09:52PM / Sunday, August 05, 2018
|Pittsfield American Little League manager Joe Skutnik, Owen Salvatore and Evan Blake talk about Sunday's win.|
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Evan Blake had 10 strikeouts in his Little League New England Regional debut on Sunday night.
None was bigger than the one that came with two out in the top of the third inning of an eventual 4-2 Pittsfield American Little League win.
It was a scoreless game in the third, but Goffstown, N.H., was threatening to change that with the bases loaded.
And Blake, who had allowed his first two hits in the inning, started off Goffstown's No. 3 hitter with a ball.
That is when Pittsfield manager Joe Skutnik sent assistant coach Pat Bramer to the mound.
"He said: Just relax and take your time," Blake said. "I was rushing a little bit. I don't know. I was all amped up.
"He just relaxed me for a second."
Blake settled in and threw three straight strikes, the last an offspeed pitch that ended the inning on a swing.
Pittsfield came back and scored a run in the bottom of the third on Blake's RBI single and built a 4-0 lead before the New Hampshire state champs were able to score a pair in the top of the sixth.
The Pittsfield Americans advance in the winners' bracket to play Monday night against Saco, Maine, which had a bye on Day 1 of the six-team regional.
Goffstown will look to stay alive in the tourney on Tuesday against the loser of Monday's game between Vermont and Rhode Island.
Blake Sunday finished with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, doubling and scoring an insurance run in the fifth.
Owen Salvatore hit an RBI triple and went from center field to the mound with the tying run on base in the sixth to strike out the only man he faced and earn a save.
"It was something that I really hoped wouldn't happen," Salvatore said of his appearance on the mound. "I thought we were going to get it done earlier with Cam [Sime]. But they called on me, and I had to get it done.
"I got it done. And it worked out perfectly."
Blake's biggest jam in his five innings was that third-inning opportunity for Goffstown. But he also got some big help from his defense.
Sime at short and second-baseman Nick Brindle turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the first inning.
In the fifth, Goffstown had first-and-second and one out when Blake retired a batter on a swinging strike that got away from catcher Antonio Scalise. The runner on second, not realizing first base was occupied, attempted to advance, and Scalise recovered the ball and fired to third baseman Roshan Warriar to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Pittsfield's offense built its lead with runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
In the third, Walker Abdallah reached on a one-out walk and moved up on Brindle's single up the middle. After a strikeout, Blake singled to left to score Abdallah and make it 1-0.
In the fourth, another one-out walk, this time to Cam Zerbato, was followed by Salvatore's triple to the left-center gap. Salvatore eventually scored on a single by Brindle (2-for-2, one RBI).
Blake led off the fifth with a double that got to the fence in center field, moved up on a Scalise groundout and scored on an RBI single from Sime to make it 4-0.
Sime started the fifth on the mound after Blake fired 87 pitches in five innings. Goffstown was about to score a couple on two hits, a walk and an error, and with Sime's pitch count at 20, Skutnik turned to Salvatore for the final out. That means Sime is eligible to pitch on Monday night.
More about the game here.