NORTH ADAMS -- One play made all the difference in the world.
Zach Larabee’s laser throw from center field got Springfield Post 21’s Adam Gutierrez at the plate in the top of the third inning. North Adams Post 125 took advantage and never let up in a 12-2, mercy-rule win in the Legion Baseball sectional playoffs Sunday afternoon at Alcombright Field.
"My defense" made the day easy, North Adams starter Robert Jutras said. "They were swinging at a lot of first pitches, but they hit the ball hard. When the defense makes plays yeah, it saves a lot of pitches."
Jutras was outstanding again. The right-hander went seven innings, giving up an unearned run on five hits. He walked one, struck out two and threw 74 pitches in seven innings. Nick Burzimati gave up a final run in the eighth inning.
The game was stopped after eight when Chase Preite’s RBI single plated Connor Tworig to give North Adams the 10-run lead for the mercy rule to kick in.
"It feels good to mercy a team in the playoffs," said Larabee.
With the win, North Adams turns right around and plays Northbridge tonight at 5:30 at Joe Wolfe Field.
North Adams led 4-1 going into the third and had the run scored, could have turned the momentum to the visitors.
Gutierrez led off and reached on Corey Meczywor’s fielding error. After Gutierrez stole second and Juan Williams popped out, Guzman ripped a ball to center. Larabee fielded
"The ball was just coming up hard. I saw [the runner] was rounding. I knew Connor was ready for it," said Larabee. "My teammates told me to gun it. Connor made a great play coming up the line.
"It pumped us up and it definitely shut them down."
North Adams actually scored all the runs it needed in the first, parlaying three hits and two costly errors into four unearned runs.
With one out, Nate Alibozek and Tanner Bird hit back-to-back singles. Alibozek took third on a hit-and-run play. Jutras reached on an error by Springfield third baseman Tyler Pinkham that allowed Alibozek to score. Meczywor made up for his error with an infield single that plated Bird. Jutras, however, gut caught up in a rundown that Springfield botched. Catcher Marc Mercado threw a ball out of play, allowing Jutras to score. Meczywor was on his way to third and was given home when the ball sailed out of play.
"We’ve been hitting the ball really well and I thought we hit the ball really well today. They made a lot of good defensive plays against us," said Springfield manager Jeff Garrow. "We did not play well defensively at all."
North Adams scored a run in every inning except the second. It was a two-run eighth that did Springfield in. Brassard scored the 11th run on the back end of a double-steal. Tworig, who went 3 for 3 with four runs batted in, scored the deciding run on Chase Preite’s single to left. Tworig had a two-run double in the third inning, a sacrifice fly in the fifth and walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.
"The whole team, all the way down through the batting lineup has been picking each other up," North Adams manager Bob Rumbolt said. "In the last three games, we had a shutout, a [mercy-rule win] and we’re doing it again. All these kids are pumped. They want to go even further than they have in the past."