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Great Barrington Advances to District Final with Win Over Adams-Cheshire
By Stephen Dravis,
08:21PM / Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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ADAMS, Mass. – Kasen Raifstanger went 2-for-2 with a double and scored three times Tuesday as the Great Barrington Little League 12-year-old All-Stars needed just three innings to take a 15-0 win over Adams and advance to the championship game of the Don Gleason District 1 Championship.
Great Barrington, the designated home team, pounded out six hits – four for extra bases – in a 12-run third inning to end the game when George Drager scored on a pitch to the backstop with one out.
Oliver Donovan struck out six and allowed two hits on the mound to pick up the win as Great Barrington (3-1) advances to Thursday’s final, a rematch against the PIttsfield Americans (4-0).
“We know Pittsfield American,” Great Barrington manager Chris Ireland said. “We know they’re a solid club. They’ve been for years and years. I played in the Pittsfield Americans’ division. I’m from Pittsfield.
“So we know we have to come and play a clean game. We can’t have any mental mistakes. And we’ve got to come ready to hit the ball.
“We’ll be prepared.”
Last week, Pittsfield American handed Great Barrington an 8-1 loss in the tournament. Ireland said he is glad that his team had a chance to see the defending district champs in the round-robin format before they meet in an elimination game.
“I think it helps,” he said. “It was our first game of the tournament. We had some jitters. It’s good to get that out of the way.
“We’ve got some momentum coming in now. We’re starting to hit the ball.”
Great Barrington scored 15 runs in each of its last two games. It also is the only team to come within fewer than 10 runs of the Americans in the tournament so far.
It got on the board early against Adams-Cheshire on Tuesday evening at Willard “Beaver” Bard Field.
John Ireland led off the bottom of the first with an infield single and went to second on Raifstanger’s single up the middle. Both came home on a double to right center from Trevor Leonard, who advanced to third on the throw home.
Leonard then scored on Finn Mason’s RBI groundout to give Great Barrington a 3-0 lead.
Adams-Cheshire starter Jason Wells-Vidal then closed the door, and he worked a 1-2-3 second inning – snagging a line drive comebacker for out No. 2 – to keep it a three-run game through two innings.
The designated visitors had a good chance to score in the second with runners at second and third with one out. But Donovan got the next two hitters on strikeouts to strand a pair.
In the top of the third, Donovan got some help from his defense.
Zack Mazzeo drew a one-out walk and looked sure to score on Brayden Durant’s double down the left field line.
But Mateo Buffoni got the ball in to Donovan, who relayed to home for the inning’s second out.
“We made a perfect throw to Donovan, Donovan grabbed it and threw it right to Trevor Leonard, and it’s a huge out, right?” Ireland said. “Instead of it being a 3-1 ballgame, it’s 3-0 with a man on third and two outs. That’s a big momentum changer for us.”
Great Barrington then rode that momentum to a big and game-ending bottom of the third, when Donovan and Matthew Vallone each tripled and Raifstanger and Levi Martin each doubled.
Although the hometown fans will not get to see another game from Adams-Cheshire (2-2), they got a heck of a show from the host squad, which won in 10 innings on Friday night and scored six times in the bottom of the sixth to come back and win on Monday.
Those two wins put Adams-Cheshire in position to go to the district final with a win on Tuesday night.
“It was awesome,” Adams-Cheshire manager Steve Albareda said. “I’m very proud of the team. Two awesome wins in the district for a team who hasn’t really won many district games in the past. Fought from behind in both of those. And we ran into a really good Great Barrington team.”
And the tournament experience will only pay dividends down the road, Albareda said.
“They know they can compete,” he said. “They know they can beat a Pittsfield team. They beat Dalton. We’re going to be fine. Start ‘em young. This group is gonna grow up through high school together, and they’re gonna be just fine.”
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