WINSTED >> Gilbert walked off with a 7-6 win over Thomaston Wednesday, tying the knot on a Berkshire League season in which almost everyone took a turn at being hot — or not.
The Yellowjackets (11-9) endured a four-game mid-season losing streak. They’ve finished the regular season in a 6-2 flurry.
The Golden Bears basked in an 8-game mid-season winning streak. They’ve finished 3-4.
“We can compete with anybody,” said Gilbert Coach Don Crossman. “As a team, we just talked about going out and doing the little things, no matter what the score.”
Wednesday, the score bounced much like the league.
Thomaston scored three times in the first two innings.
Jake Torrence (2-for-4, double, RBI, run) led off with a single up the middle. Justin Taylor (2-for-4, run) followed one out later with an RBI triple. Jared Kahn batted him in with a single.
Next inning, Evan Butkevicius led off with a single, hustling around the bases on a steal, sacrifice and a ground-out to first on a great play by first baseman Austin Smith.
At 3-0, despite Smith’s good play, the game belonged to the Bears.
And then it didn’t.
Gilbert’s Dylan Thomson and Ryley Weiss got on with a hit and a walk starting the bottom of the third.
Thomaston’s Butkevicius pitched a ground-out and a strikeout, then hit a buzz saw.
Cam Goulet (2-for-4, 2 runs) lofted a two-run triple.
Tim Smith followed with another one, 3-3.
Chad Closson (2-for-4, 2 RBI), singled Goulet in for the lead.
Jared Kahn relieved Butkevicius after a lead-off walk the bottom of the fourth.
Gilbert starter Weiss left Bears Drew Colavecchio (2-for-3, RBI) and Torrence (double) on second and third in the fourth, then ran into Thomaston’s version of the buzz saw in the fifth and sixth.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Jake George reached on a Gilbert error. Matt Tehan, Colavecchio and Devin Acker (RBI) sprayed three straight hits, recapturing the lead, 5-4.
In the top of the sixth, Jon Wilson upped the Thomaston lead to 6-4 with a bunt single, two Gilbert errors and a ground-out.
Trailing 6-4 into the final inning, the Yellowjackets needed the little things to go right.
Smith went to the mound, delivering a one-two-three inning.
“It was my first time closing,” said the big sophomore. “I came in in the fourth inning at Cooperstown (against Wamogo).”
Two Golden Bears reached for high third strikes.
“It must be the delivery,” Smith said.
A fly-out to center field brought the Yellowjackets in for their final try.
Nursing the 6-4 lead, Thomaston pitcher Jared Kahn got a called third strike for the first out.
Kevin Sullivan lined a hit to left.
Garrett Lombardo lined one to right.
Goulet dropped a hit into short left field to load the bases with one out.
Sullivan raced in on a wild pitch, 6-5. Kahn intentionally walked Tim Smith, reloading the bases.
Closson singled Lombardo in for the tie.
Thomaston coach Bob McMahon drew in his outfielders so a single couldn’t get through, since almost any deep fly ball would score the winning run.
Austin Smith walked to the plate.
“Coach told me just to drive the ball,” he said.
The first pitch from Kahn came back as a rope over Tehan’s head into left field.
“It was a big moment for them,” said McMahon. “We left some runs on the field.”
More simply, in this league, this year, it was Gilbert’s turn to be hot.
Both teams will begin state tournament play next week.
Gilbert 7, Thomaston 6
At Walker Field, Winsted
Thomaston 210 021 0 – 6 12 0
Gilbert 004 000 3 – 7 10 3
WP: Austin Smith. LP: Jared Kahn. 3B: T – Justin Taylor. G – Cam Goulet; Tim Smith. 2B: T – Jake Torrence.
Records: Thomaston 13-7; Gilbert 11-9.