NORTH ADAMS -- A 32-pitch first inning is hardly the way to start on the mound. Toss in four consecutive walks and a wild pitch and the game can spiral out of control before the home team even gets an at-bat.
That's what was about to happen to Chase Preite and North Adams Post 125. Then the MCLA sophomore-to-be struck out the next two batters to end the threat. He allowed just six batters to reach base the rest of the way, and with a seven-run fifth inning, Post 125 earned a mercy-rule victory over Tyler Aces, 12-2.
North Adams plays Post 68 today at Clapp Park at 5:30 p.m. The winner advances to the championship game, which is scheduled for Saturday.
"I just wasn't there," Preite said. "It might have been, like, just overthinking it. I was missing high, missing low. I couldn't find it at all. Usually that doesn't happen."
After escaping the first inning with just one run against, Preite settled in. He faced just four batters in each of the second, third and fourth innings. He walked just three in that span, and Tyler Aces failed to keep pace with Post 125's offense.
We have a lot of confidence in Chase," Alex Bush said. " I feel like we know he's going to come around."
Bush ripped the offense's first hit, a leadoff triple in the second. While he didn't score, it gave the offense confidence against crafty lefty Anthony Traversa. A throwing error by catcher Trevor Johnston allowed Conner Tworig to score after
The single also helped Preite relax on the mound.
"It definitely helped," he said. "When I'm pitching, I try not to even think about the hitting because my duty's pitching. But it definitely loosened me up in the dugout. I was kind of in my corner there for the first two innings, then the guys started getting me going, I started smiling again. Back to the normal me."
The teams combined to walk 15 batters (eight charged to Tyler Aces pitchers, who also plunked two.) Of those 17, eight scored. North Adams utilizes the free-bees better, especially in its half of the fifth inning.
The first two batters walked and a single loaded the bases for Larabee, who brought Bush in with a single. Preite followed with a sacrifice fly to right. Another walk re-loaded the bases for Tanner Bird, who drove in one with a single to left. The throw from left fielder Andrew Leitch sailed long, allowing Larabee to score, while Bird and Nate Alibozek moved up a base. A walk by Robert Jutras loaded the bases again, and consecutive RBI singles had North Adams one run shy on the win. Tworig delivered on the second pitch of his at-bat to score Jutras.
"The bats, outstanding," coach Bob Rumbolt said. "The last five, six games, we were only getting four, five hits. I don't know our total hits , but I know we had more than four or five."