MANCHESTER - Kris Perkins was unfazed when a teammate told him he'd need 15 strikeouts for Pittsfield against top-seed Littleton in the Division IV state title game.
Perkins came up just short with 14, which turned out to be plenty as the junior lefty pitched a two-hitter in a 5-1 win over the Crusaders for Pittsfield's first state title since 2001.
"I haven't really gotten a chance to feel anything like this before. It's pretty crazy. I'm hoping to get to do it again next year," said Perkins, who didn't allow a hit through the first five innings. "I was just trying to throw hard, mix up the pitches and keep it going."
Tyler Stockman led off the game with an inside-the-park home run and Perkins added an RBI as the Panthers (17-3) took a 2-0 lead they never relinquished.
Perkins struck out the side in the first, third and fifth innings and didn't allow a hit until Mike Miller's single with one out in the sixth.
"I was looking for a no-hitter, honestly, but it wasn't a big deal. I just shrugged it off," Perkins said.
The Panthers added three runs in the sixth after loading the bases with nobody out. Wesley Ward led off with a single, Chris Farr singled and then Perkins laid down a perfect bunt that slowly rolled on the grass toward third base. Branden Smith drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and the Panthers added two more on singles by Jed Eastman and Colby Clark.
"They were calm and they played together and this is the outcome for them," coach Rob Stockman said. "They deserve everything they get. I'm proud of them."
"He battled all day. We play a little bit better defense behind him today, maybe something works out a little bit better for us. We just had a couple plays that we normally make that we didn't make," Littleton coach A.J. Bray said. "Normally we score first. They scored first, put us on heels and with that pitcher throwing, it was going to be an uphill battle even to score two runs."
Or even one, which the Crusaders got after Miller's one-out single in the sixth. Josh Bogardus hit a hard grounder to short that Stockman bobbled, then made a wild throw into right field that allowed Miller to reach third. Miller scored on a fielder's choice by Nick Walsh, who just beat the throw to first and avoided the double play.