TRUMBULL, Conn. — Mike Bechard had a couple of different objectives heading into the Under-15 Babe Ruth New England regionals. For the head coach of the Augusta all-stars, one of those was simple.

“We want the boys to have fun,” he said. “We get to hang out in Connecticut for a few days and play some baseball. That’s what it’s all about.”

Unfortunately, the Western Massachusetts state champions from Pittsfield didn’t make it much fun on the field, as it rolled to a 9-0 victory in the pool-play opener for both teams Friday afternoon at Trumbull High School.

Augusta hung in there for four innings behind the pitching of Hunter Chasse and some spectacular defense — an area of the game that helped the team capture district and state titles. Augusta trailed just 1-0 going into the fifth.

But Pittsfield, undefeated (8-0) during tournament season and looking every bit like one of the favorites to earn a spot in the World Series, exploded for four runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth to take a commanding 9-0 lead.

Pittsfield struggled to push runs across early, leaving 10 runners on base over the first four innings, but finished with 14 hits off Chasse and reliever Cole Lockhart, who pitched the final 2 1/3 innings. Pittsfield’s pitching wasn’t much easier to handle. Right-handed starter Izaiya Mestre allowed just two soft singles over the first five innings and reliever Jake Flynn gave up just one more single over the final two frames.

“Our defense is the strength of our team. I don’t think that’s going to change,” Bechard said. “But at this level, it’s all about pitching and hitting. You do those two things well and you’re going to win games. That’s what (Pittsfield) did.”

Augusta had its chances over the first three innings. Cody Taylor singled with one out in the first, Noah Bonsant singled with two outs in the second and Dylan Presby reached second with two outs in the third after walking and stealing second.

But Mestre was able to work himself out of trouble each time.

“We weren’t aggressive enough,” Presby said. “We just need to be more aggressive to the ball next game.”

Augusta’s only other chance to score came in the sixth on a two-out walk by Taylor and a single by Chasse, but this time, it was Flynn who got out of the jam.

“I think we hit the ball well,” Bechard said. “The kids might have been a little flat. That’s all.”

Chasse certainly did his part to keep Augusta in the game. Pittsfield scored a quick run in the first on a double by Mestre and a one-out triple by Jacob McNeice, but Chasse kept pulling off magic acts to keep the Western Mass champions off the board. Chasse got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first. Pittsfield had players on first and second with one out in the second and didn’t score. It had the bases loaded in the third and got shut out again then stranded three more runners in the fourth.

Chasse allowed eight hits with two strikeouts and five walks, but pitched much better than that.

“He was great,” Bechard said. “They left 10 guys on in four innings. I think that says it all.”

Augusta heads back to the field Saturday for Game 2 of pool play when it faces Vermont at 10:30 a.m. Vermont dropped a 3-0 decision against Cranston, R.I., in their first game.


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