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South Hadley falls in opener of American Legion tournament 

  • Connor Sheridan of South Hadley lets a high pitch from Matthew Irzyk of Westfield pass Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connor Sheridan of South Hadley lets a high pitch from Matthew Irzyk of Westfield pass Monday in Westfield.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Scott Bicknell, center, of South Hadley, leaps past Cameron Robitaille of Westfield to score on a steal Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Scott Bicknell, center, of South Hadley, leaps past Cameron Robitaille of Westfield to score on a steal Monday in Westfield.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dvon Cordero, left, of South Hadley, can't handle a throw to second as Ryan Tettemer of Westfield steals the base Monday in Westfield. Connor Sheridan backs up the play.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Dvon Cordero, left, of South Hadley, can't handle a throw to second as Ryan Tettemer of Westfield steals the base Monday in Westfield. Connor Sheridan backs up the play.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matt Beauchemin, right, of South Hadley, pitches to Samuel Blake of Westfield Monday in Westfield. Blake struck out on this at-bat.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Matt Beauchemin, right, of South Hadley, pitches to Samuel Blake of Westfield Monday in Westfield. Blake struck out on this at-bat.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley pitcher Matt Beauchemin, right, is greeted at home by Connor Sheridan after scoring on a single from Michael Croke Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    South Hadley pitcher Matt Beauchemin, right, is greeted at home by Connor Sheridan after scoring on a single from Michael Croke Monday in Westfield.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley gets tagged out by Connor Sas of Westfield while trying to steal third Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley gets tagged out by Connor Sas of Westfield while trying to steal third Monday in Westfield.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dvon Cordero of South Hadley catches a fly ball from Robert Sullivan of Westfield Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Dvon Cordero of South Hadley catches a fly ball from Robert Sullivan of Westfield Monday in Westfield.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connor Sheridan of South Hadley lets a high pitch from Matthew Irzyk of Westfield pass Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Scott Bicknell, center, of South Hadley, leaps past Cameron Robitaille of Westfield to score on a steal Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Dvon Cordero, left, of South Hadley, can't handle a throw to second as Ryan Tettemer of Westfield steals the base Monday in Westfield. Connor Sheridan backs up the play.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Matt Beauchemin, right, of South Hadley, pitches to Samuel Blake of Westfield Monday in Westfield. Blake struck out on this at-bat.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • South Hadley pitcher Matt Beauchemin, right, is greeted at home by Connor Sheridan after scoring on a single from Michael Croke Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley gets tagged out by Connor Sas of Westfield while trying to steal third Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Dvon Cordero of South Hadley catches a fly ball from Robert Sullivan of Westfield Monday in Westfield.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

South Hadley allowed a pair of three-run leads to slip away as Westfield Post 124 emerged with a 7-6 victory in game 1 of the Western District playoffs at Bullens Field.

“We haven’t given up many runs this season,” Pettengill coach John O’Hara said. “I think we allowed the fewest in the entire district. But with how good a hitting team Westfield is, we score six runs and you’re crossing your fingers and hoping to escape with a win. Just didn’t work out for us.”

Pettengill (12-9) faces elimination in game 2 Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at South Hadley High School.

“We’ll throw our ace (Tuesday) in Endy (Sanchez), so we have to go out there and do the things to win a game,” O’Hara said.

South Hadley put up 11 hits over the first 32∕3 innings and took a 6-3 advantage to the last of the fourth.

Both starters struggled for consistency, as the hero for Westfield proved to be reliever Matt Plasse, who entered the game with two outs in the top of the fourth and proceeded to retire the final 10 batters.

“It became more of a defensive game in the second half of it,” pitcher Joe Ciolek said. “I certainly wish we could’ve kept the bats going, but (Plasse) did a nice job. He had a different breaking ball, but we should have been able to adjust.”

Ciolek took the loss in relief despite giving up just one hit and striking out three in two innings. He walked the first batter he faced in the fifth. With a man on third and two outs, Evan Moorhouse smashed a grounder off Ciolek for an infield hit as Rob Sullivan crossed with the eventual game-winning run.

“I just couldn’t find it against that first hitter,” Ciolek said. “I tried to keep it low facing such a good hitting team, but a little too low. I’m used to being a starter, so it’s a different mindset coming in relief. On the play that scored the run, I tried to make the play and I think I should have.”

Post 124 (15-6) scored at least one run in the first five innings. Pettengill starter Matt Beauchemin gave up five earned runs on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

“I think early on Matt had a lot of a emotion and excitement, then by the end of his outing he was a little fatigued,” O’Hara said. “He also was on the bases a lot and running around, so in this weather that might have affected him a little.”

Westfield loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth. Beauchemin picked up the first out on a foul pop to Ciolek at third, but Jake Toomey lined a single to left that scored one. When the throw from the outfield eluded catcher Mike Croke, another run came in to make it 6-5.

A passed ball allowed Connor Sas to scamper home to even things at 6-6. From there, Plasse set down Pettengill in order over the next three innings.

“He had three pitches and he got ahead,” O’Hara said. “That was a heck of a performance coming into that spot, and he did it by throwing quality strikes.”

Trailing 1-0 after the first inning, Croke singled in a run and Connor Sheridan walked with the bases loaded to give South Hadley a 2-1 advantage. Ciolek (2-for-4, RBI, run) set up the inning with a booming ground-rule double to left field.

After Westfield tied it up, Ciolek and Croke had RBI singles in a three-run top of the third. Croke went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs before leaving the game in the fifth following a collision at the plate.

Beauchemin was 3-for-4 and scored twice for Post 260, which got hits from seven different players. Connor Sheridan, Pat Sears and Nate Flachs (run) drove in a run apiece, while Dvon Cordero and Scott Bicknell each scored once.

“This was a real up-and-down game on both sides, but hats off to Westfield,” O’Hara said. “They’re a great hitting team and none of their hits could be classified as cheap. We knew coming in how good they are. So we knew we’d need to score some runs, and we’ll know we’ll have to score on (Tuesday).”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

American Legion

Westfield 7, Pettengill 6

Pettengill 023 100 0—6 11 2

Westfield 111 310 x—7 9 0

WP - Plasse; LP - Ciolek

Records: Pettengill (12-9); Westfield (15-6)

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