|Greenfield Edges Williamstown in Cal Ripken Tourney Opener|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
09:33PM / Friday, July 05, 2019
|Williamstown's Jackson Sheehy (seen here), Kieran Johnson, Kylie Livingstone and Jacob Hillman pitched in Friday's game.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williamstown’s 9-and-under Cal Ripken Baseball All-Stars did not find a way to pull out a victory in their opening game of the Western Massachusetts State Championship on Friday night.
But they did find their identity.
“These guys came up with it during the game,” coach Chris Johnson said after a 10-9 loss to Greenfield. “The called it the Pack. Our nickname is the Huskies, and I said to them, ‘What do you want to do? Family on three?’ They said, ‘No, let’s do Pack.’ That’s what we are, the Pack.
“Gotta love it when the kids are coming up with that leadership.”
That kind of heart allowed Williamstown to rally from a 3-2 deficit to take an 8-3 lead and then bounce back after Greenfield tied the game to scratch out a 9-8 lead in the top of the sixth.
But Greenfield scored two in the bottom of the frame without a basehit to escape with the win and a 1-0 record in pool play on Bud Anderson Field.
In Friday’s other game, at Williamstown Elementary School, Hudson topped the Berkshire All-Stars, 15-5.
Greeenfield got off to a strong start with three innings of no-hit ball from starting pitcher Grayson Thomas. But the Huskies cashed in on a couple of first-inning walks, two pitches that got to the backstop and an error to take a 2-0 lead.
Greenfield answered with one run in the bottom of the frame and added a pair in the third, including one on an RBI triple off the bat of Chase Zraunig.
The Pack attack had a big answer in the top of the fourth, batting around and using hits by Kieran Johnson, Jacob Hillman and Jackson Sheehy to score six runs and go ahead, 8-3.
Hillman had the big hit, a single to right that scored Cameron Stokes and Cole Creighton.
“The offense has, unfortunately, been streaky, but when it comes, it comes in droves,” Johnson said. “We have to be ready for it. So we started getting aggressive running the bases, challenging their throws, which was important. We talked about it as coaches: Kids have wheels.
“They wound up catching us a couple of times, good for them. That kind of slowed us down a little bit.”
Greenfield catcher Wade Bardwell threw out runners at second in the fifth and sixth to limit Williamstown’s offense.
Meanwhile, the designated home team scored two in the fourth and three in the fifth to tie it. Bode Burke, who was named Greenfield’s MVP for the game, had an RBI double in the fifth and scored a run to help tie it, 8-8.
In the top of the sixth, Williamstown’s Kieran Johnson reached with a one-out single, stole second, moved up on a passed ball and scored on Sheehy’s two-out single up the middle to put the Pack up, 9-8.
But two walks and a catcher’s interference call loaded the bases for Greenfield with one out in the bottom of the sixth. A hit batter then tied it, and a pitch that got to the backstop allowed Ben Johnston to score the game-winning run.
Williamstown will look for its first win in the five-team National Division at the 10-team state tourney on Saturday at 3:30 at Bud Anderson against Marlboro. The Berkshire All-Stars, who are in the American Division, face Mohawk at 3:30 at WES.
Both county teams will play twice on Sunday as pool play concludes. Two teams from each division will move on to semi-final games on Monday with a Western Mass State Final on tap for Tuesday at 5:30.
Chris Johnson said it’s a plus having his players playing at home in front of a friendly crowd and going home to their own beds.
“For about half this team, this is their first tournament,” he said. “So they’re really excited about it. It’s a really exciting atmosphere.
“Hotels are fun, but they’re not great for baseball, necessarily. A lot of distractions there. … Everyone is going home. We’re at Bud Anderson. This is our home field. It feels great to be here. This is where we learned to play baseball. This is where we’re going to try to make it happen.”