PITTSFIELD -- A 5-2 score doesn't scream pitchers' duel, but that's exactly what Thursday evening's American Legion elimination game was.
The difference was a pair of errors from North Adams, which gave the Tyler Aces a 5-2 win and the right to fight another day. That's today against Southern Berkshire at Berkshire School.
"We haven't really been hitting that well," Aces coach Bill Dassat. "As you can see tonight, we got some opportunities handed to us. That was the ballgame."
The first mistake came in the bottom of the first inning with two outs. North Adams' Max Quinn rushed a grounder to his right and wasn't able to get the force at third, which loaded the bases. In the next at-bat, Justin Hopkins sliced a double down the right-field line that snuck past Alex Bush for a two-out, three-run double.
The second blunder gave the Tyler Aces a little breathing room in the fourth. Post 125 tried to turn an inning-ending double play, but Tanner Bird's throw to first was off the mark. Connor Lein came around to score from second and Aces led 4-0. Lane Grogan flied out to end the threat a batter later.
"Last night, we go from no errors, and then what? We commit [two]. That opened the door right there ..." North Adams coach Bob Rumbolt said. "They got [four] unearned, and that's the name of the game. We didn't have that many hits, and they had the key opportunities with the hits."
Tanner Hanford didn't need any more help, but his offense gave him one more run in the fifth. He worked as quickly as he could without quick pitching. North Adams tried to disrupt his rhythm by stepping out of the box, but it had little effect.
Hanford faced no more than four batters in an inning until the seventh. His command allowed him to test the corners and even a little off. He was getting the calls and wasn't shy about repeatedly targeting the outside corner, much to the disgust of North Adams' hitters.
"I throw what's working, honestly. Everything was working for me today," he said. "I've been [spotting pitches well] my whole life, so it's definitely very important. Definitely the fastball on the outside corner was my favorite spot."
Post 125's Robert Jutras stepped on the mound for the second straight day in the suffocating heat. He threw 52 pitches in a five-inning, mercy-rule win over Lenoxdale on Wednesday, Rumbolt said. On Thursday, he threw 103 over six innings of work.
After giving up three hits in the first inning, he allowed just three the rest of the way. He also managed to strand seven Aces on the bases, four in scoring position, and he left the bases full in the fifth, which kept the game within reach.
"We're trying to get wins and we're low on guys," he said. "You just try to bust it out and try to get some victories, that's all it is. Try and have some fun, too."
Jutras is no stranger to coming back on short rest, but this was a quick turnaround. He started consecutive games in four days to win the county title last summer. His pitch count for those two games was 178.
He threw 155 this year in two days.
"It feels decent," he said. "I could probably throw a couple more. No, just kidding."
Tyler Aces 5, North Adams 2
NA 000 001 1 -- 2 4 2
TA 300 110 x -- 5 6 1
Robert Jutras and Jake Hall. Tanner Hanford and Dom Traversa. W -- Hanford. L -- Jutras.
2B -- TA 2 (Justin Hopkins, Hanford). 3B -- NA 1 (Tanner Bird).