|Pittsfield pitcher Jay Coyne collected the win Saturday, but it wasn't easy for the Generals.|
WESTFIELD - For all of he hard work, clutch hitting and solid pitching Pittsfield had going for itself over the course of the first six innings, everything nearly came unraveled after Westfield put forth a huge rally in the seventh inning.
The Generals built themselves a tidy six-run cushion heading into the final frame, only to watch in horror as the Bombers continued to send runners across the plate. With the tying run standing on third, relief pitcher Hayden Harrington recorded the final out on a fielder's choice, a force out at second which allowed Pittsfield to exhale a major sigh of relief, as it held on for a 7-6 victory Saturday at Billy Bullens Field.
"You expect a good team like Westfield to never give up," said Generals coach Seamus Morrison. "Our starting pitcher started to tire and Hayden came in, gave up a base hit, but then got the final out. This was a big win for us."
Pittsfield (6-2) wasted no time jumping on Westfield starting pitcher Kyle Roberts, scoring three times in the top half of the first inning. After loading the bases, Hunter Potash drove in the first run on a fielder's choice. After a hit by pitch once again juiced the bases, Harrington delivered a two-run single.
Pittsfield staring pticher Jay Coyne proved to be the great illusionist through the first four innings The senior continued to tight rope his way out of trouble, having allowed just a solo run during that span thanks to an Anthony Clark RBI single in the bottom of the first. Westfield ended up stranding seven runners on base during the first four innings.
"Jay pitched a great game for us," Morrison said. "In the last game he pitched for us, back on Saturday, he came out with a bit of a sore arm. He did a lot of work on the side and a lot of conditioning his arm and today it showed. He was right around the plate all day. Early on he managed to work himself out of some serious trouble which was great to see."
From that point forward, Coyne became masterful as he predominantly used his two-seam fastball, curve and change up to baffle the Westfield hitters. Before exiting, Coyne allowed six hits and struck out five.
"Our team always fights and never gives up," said Coyne, who is headed to St. Joseph College next season. "That is what we always preach so it was really good that we pulled through and got the win. Westfield has a lot of good hitters but I was able to spot my pitches good and my defense made the plays behind me."
In the fifth, the Generals would add to their lead on a two out RBI single by Joe Traversa. They would tack on another run in the sixth off of reliever Adam Kearing. With one out, pinch-hitter Shane McMahon singled and stole second. Following a strike out and a walk, McMahon trotted home on Griff Manns' single into right to put the Generals ahead by four runs.
With Coyne setting Westfield down in order in the fourth and fifth frames, respectively, it looked as though Pittsfield was now in the catbird seat. That became more evident in the seventh. Two walks and a balk put base runners on second and third for the Generals. One out later, Potash roped a fastball down the left field line to make it a 7-1 contest.
As it turned out, Potash's key hit would prove to be the difference. That's because the Bombers took their never-die attitude up to the plate with them in the bottom of the frame.
After Coyne retired the first batter, things began to crack for Pittsfield. An error and a hit by pitch got the engines started. Coyne then got No. 3 batter Sean Moorhouse looking at strike three. Now needing just one more out, things continued to crumble for Pittsfield. Three consecutive singles by Austin St. Pierre, Clark and Jonathan Huntley, proceeded by a throwing error from Traversa at shortstop suddenly made it 7-5.
With Harrington now in, the junior gave up an RBI infield single to Adam Dunn to make it a one run affair.
With all of the momentum clearly on the side of Westfield, and the Generals playing with nervous feet in the field, Harrington got Ari Schwartz to ground to second in which second baseman Marco DiNicola stepped on the bag for the final out to preserve the triumph.
"We made a nice comeback and hit the ball in the seventh but I just wish it had been more-consistent throughout the game," Bombers coach Mike Kennedy said. "I don't expect my players to be happy by rallying back. I expect them to build off of it. The one thing I cannot take from this game is us not driving the ball the other way. Today we didn't do that and you saw how successful it was when Pittsfield did it. We just now need to work hard on the things we didn't do right today."