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Amherst tops Northampton, advances to Mickey Mantle tourney finals

  • Jake Balderston of Amherst is tagged out at home by Northampton catcher Steven Joyce during their game at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst went on to win the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Jake Balderston of Amherst is tagged out at home by Northampton catcher Steven Joyce during their game at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst went on to win the game 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amherst's Zach Kelley (22) high fives teammate Django Ellenhorn after he scored during their game against Northampton at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Amherst's Zach Kelley (22) high fives teammate Django Ellenhorn after he scored during their game against Northampton at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won the game 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Colby Lander of Northampton and Ethan Young of Amherst both look to the umpire for the call on the play after Lander slid into second base. Lander was safe. Amherst won the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Colby Lander of Northampton and Ethan Young of Amherst both look to the umpire for the call on the play after Lander slid into second base. Lander was safe. Amherst won the game 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Selah Dalomba of Amherst talks with opposing members of the Northampton team while they waited for Chris Soderberg of Northampton threw warm up pitches. The teams played at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Selah Dalomba of Amherst talks with opposing members of the Northampton team while they waited for Chris Soderberg of Northampton threw warm up pitches. The teams played at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won 3-1.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Selah Dalomba of Amherst laughs and jokes with his teammates after their 3-1 win against Northampton at South Hadley High School. Dalomba pitched during the seven innings of the game.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Selah Dalomba of Amherst laughs and jokes with his teammates after their 3-1 win against Northampton at South Hadley High School. Dalomba pitched during the seven innings of the game.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jake Balderston of Amherst is tagged out at home by Northampton catcher Steven Joyce during their game at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst went on to win the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Amherst's Zach Kelley (22) high fives teammate Django Ellenhorn after he scored during their game against Northampton at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Colby Lander of Northampton and Ethan Young of Amherst both look to the umpire for the call on the play after Lander slid into second base. Lander was safe. Amherst won the game 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Django Ellenhorn of Amherst claps as he runs home to score. He was brought in by a single hit by Selah Dalomba. Amherst won the game against Northampton at South Hadley High School 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Selah Dalomba of Amherst talks with opposing members of the Northampton team while they waited for Chris Soderberg of Northampton threw warm up pitches. The teams played at South Hadley High School on July 26, 2013. Amherst won 3-1.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Selah Dalomba of Amherst laughs and jokes with his teammates after their 3-1 win against Northampton at South Hadley High School. Dalomba pitched during the seven innings of the game.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

That was until the player charged with holding the lead provided himself and his team with an insurance run in the last of the sixth.

Pitcher Selah Dalomba drove a first-pitch single through a drawn-in infield to score Django Ellenhorn, then finished a complete game by escaping a bases loaded jam as Amherst defeated Northampton 3-1 at South Hadley High School to advance to the championship round.

“I was so pumped to win this game because it is very important for our chances,” Dalomba said. “My teammates and coaches were counting on me, so it’s great to get it done. I feel really good about my performance.

“I felt good going into that at-bat, and I like to be as relaxed as possible,” he added. “I’ve been seeing the ball well lately, taking my walks when they’re there. I went up there ready to rip at the first good pitch.”

Second-seeded Northampton (15-5-1) faces No. 3 Mohawk (11-9-1) in an elimination game Saturday at 10 a.m. The surviving team will then need to beat Amherst twice — at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon and 2 p.m. Sunday — to win the title.

“Now we have to do it the hard way,” Hamp coach David Hoose said. “The biggest thing is to be careful in that first game and not let that other team sneak by you. That happened to us last year against Athol. You’re a little down after losing (Friday), but we have to come back ready to go. We hope to be playing in that final game on Sunday, that would be a deserving finish to our season.”

Amherst (17-3-1), the regular season champion, will take the field Saturday afternoon just one win from the championship.

“The other teams have their backs to the wall now, so we have some breathing room,” infielder Jake Balderston said. “Northampton’s a great team and it would be fun to get to play them again.”

Dalomba fired a five-hitter and didn’t allow an earned run. He struck out six and walked two, both of those coming in the final inning.

A single by Ben O’Connor (2-for-2) and a pair of walks sandwiched around two fly outs loaded the bases with two outs for Hamp. But Dalomba induced Garrett Connly to ground out to second on the first pitch to end the game.

“I just like to have fun, especially at the end of a game,” Dalomba said. “I seem to usually load the bases in that situation but find a way to work myself out of it. It’s a lot more fun to be in a tight, one-run game. I hate when it’s an easy game.”

Amherst assumed the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth as pinch hitter Balderston delivered a clutch two-out single up the middle to bring in Dalomba.

“I felt the need to come through for my teammates in that situation,” Balderston said. “I was just looking to poke one through the infield to get the run home. The past few games I’ve started, so I’m not used to pinch hitting. When I was on deck, my knees were knocking a little bit, so I felt the pressure.”

Christian Candelario-Romero pitched a solid 51∕3 innings for Hamp in the loss. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout. Chris Soderberg picked up the final two outs of the sixth to keep Northampton within two runs.

“Candy was excellent, and he shows a lot of poise for a 15-year-old pitcher,” Hoose said. “He drops in that first-pitch breaking ball like he’s been doing it forever. They only had seven hits off him, but we made some mistakes that cost us.”

Northampton took the early lead when Colby Lander stole home on the back end of a double steal. Lander reached on an error, which made it an unearned run.

“Selah is a very good pitcher in this league,” Hoose said. “We may not get a ton of hits off him, so when we have someone on base we want to challenge the defense on the base paths. Stealing bases is always a risk, but against a tough pitcher you need to take chances.”

Dalomba stranded the tying run in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings.

“All my pitches were working well,” Dalomba said. “My curve ball has been a little off lately, but it’s getting there. But my slider’s been great, so I love to use that pitch.”

Amherst tied it 1-1 with an unearned tally in the bottom of the third. Daniel Hodgkins singled to center, stole second and came around on an overthrow to first on a ground ball by Brett Morrison.

Ellenhorn (run), Morrison, Ethan Young and Chewy Garand had a hit apiece for Amherst, while Soderberg, Steven Joyce and Mikey Gross each singled for Hamp.

“Amherst seems to get it done against us, and you can’t talk about luck when they’ve beaten us four in a row this season,” Hoose said. “I’ve very proud of how our kids played, but Amherst is a really good baseball team.”

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

Mickey Mantle Tournament

Amherst 3, Northampton 1

Northampton 010 000 0—1 5 1

Amherst 001 101 x—3 7 1

WP - Dalomba; LP - Candelario-Romero

Records: Northampton (15-5-1); Amherst (17-3-1)

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