Errors doom Pittsfield in 12-2 loss to Newmarket in D-IV championship

  • Pittsfield starter Devin Bedell delivers a pitch on Saturday during the Division IV championship game against Newmarket at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. The Panthers finished the season 19-2. MIKE ZHE / Seacoastonline

  • Newmarket’s Nick Berthiaume scores in front of Pittsfield catcher Jesse MacGlashing during the third inning of Saturday’s Division IV baseball championship game. Berthiaume’s run gave the Mules a 2-1 lead and was part of a 10-run inning that helped Newmarket to a 12-2, five-inning win. MIKE ZHE/ Seacoastonline

Monitor staff
Published: 6/8/2019 1:29:18 PM

MANCHESTER – Defense was its weakness all season, but the Pittsfield baseball team overcame its fielding issues with big bats and quality arms. Until the end.

The No. 2 Panthers committed five errors, including three in the game-breaking third inning, and lost Saturday’s Division IV final against No. 4 Newmarket, 12-2, in a five-inning game shortened by the 10-run rule.

“I feel like we masked a lot of defensive shortcomings through the year. Not to say we shouldn’t have come out and played better today, we should have,” Pittsfield coach Rob Stockman said. “The three errors (in the third inning) that’s a joke. ... We didn’t make the plays and you’ve got to give Newmarket credit, they came in and took advantage of them, and that’s what a good team does.”

The defensive problems for Pittsfield (19-2) stem from an inexperienced team – the entire outfield and right side of the infield are all first-year starters. Newmarket (18-2) is just the opposite. The Mules were in the D-IV title game last year (they lost to Littleton, 3-1) and that experience proved valuable on Saturday at Delta Dental Stadium, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

“Our guys had been here before, and it’s always a thrill to play here, but we were here, we were close, and everybody was like, ‘Let’s just finish the job this year,’ ” Newmarket coach Stan Jurkoic said. “So, we felt good about all of it, our pitching, hitting and defense, and the guys just put it all together. I’m totally, totally proud of them.”

Newmarket starter Josh Mastin was also the starter in last year’s championship, and the senior looked like someone who had been there before. He gave up a run in the first, but settled in after that, working all five innings, striking out three, allowing just three hits and walking five. Not only was it a turnaround from the 2018 title game for Mastin, it was also a turnaround from the regular season when he and the Mules lost to Pittsfield twice, 7-2 on May 14 and 3-2 on May 21.

“Unbelievable,” Jurkoic said of Mastin. “He’s been nails all year. Our two losses against Pittsfield he pitched really well, and besides that he had all wins, so he was ready for it. He said he had one more in him.”

Mastin did change up his approach against the Panthers by using, what else, a change-up.

“They’ve got some dangerous hitters, so if it’s just fastball and curveball, and you leave a ball in the wrong place, they can do damage, so he mixed in his change, and that’s what he did last year in the championship game,” Jurkoic said. “He threw a lot of changes, more changes to the aggressive hitters, and he did the same today and he got some pop outs and some balls that weren’t hit as hard.”

The Panthers got to Mastin in the first when DJ Zensky drew a walk, went to second on a single from Kyle Stockman, took third on a walk to Devin Bedell and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. That came after Bedell, Pittsfield’s starting pitcher, escaped a jam in the top of the first. The Mules put a runner on in the second, but Bedell worked around that, too, and Pittsfield had a 1-0 lead after two.

“Yesterday we didn’t look great (at practice) and I told one of my buddies, ‘I don’t like how we’re feeling coming into it,’ ” coach Stockmkan said of his Panthers. “But after we got through the first two innings I thought we’d be fine.”

They weren’t.

The Mules’ big third inning started with them looking for just one run. Mastin drew a leadoff walk and Nick Berthiaume laid down a bunt to move him along. Bedell fielded the bunt cleanly, but Zensky couldn’t handle the throw at first, and the small leak that would turn into a flood was opened.

A sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice RBI pushed across the first two runs for Newmarket to make it 2-1. The Panthers could have lived with that, but they couldn’t find a way to play clean. Pittsfield coughed up two errors, a passed ball and two walks, and then Mastin cracked a two-run single to make it 7-1. Lucas Russell capped the inning with a shot to left-center field that turned into a three-run, inside-the-park home run and a 10-1 lead.

“I always tell these guys, and we’ve been known for this under me, when you have a few errors you need that leadership to step up and kill the inning,” Stockman said. “Even if you give up two or three, you’re still in the ballgame, but it was just a runaway train, I can’t explain it.”

The Panthers got one back in the bottom of the third when Bedell doubled, stole third and came home on a ground out from Jesse MacGlashing to make it 10-2. But the Mules scored two more unearned runs in the fourth (all 12 of their runs were unearned) on two errors, a walk and a hit to get back to that 10-run margin. Mastin kept it there for the last two innings, giving Newmarket its first title since 2001 and leaving Pittsfield frustrated with a poor end to a good season.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Stockman said. “We were 19-2 and we made it to the finals, and if you don’t get here you don’t have a chance. I just wish we had a better showing than that.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)



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