Bedford pitcher Jacoby Collins takes a slow rolling hit by Manchester North batter Dom Dizillo for the throw to first. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — Bedford led 6-0 early and then held on late for an 8-6 win over host Manchester North in the Little League District I losers' bracket final Friday night.
Bedford will host undefeated Salem at 1 p.m. today in the finals. A Bedford win would force a winner-take-all game on Monday.
Bedford's Jacoby Collins hit a three-run home run in the first inning and a solo shot in the third and pitched into the fifth to lead the way.
"He had a big day," said Bedford coach Tom Destafani. "I think getting in front early was big. We knew they had good pitching."
Trailing 8-3 in the bottom of the fifth, North's first two batters reached base as Kyle Swetland walked and Brendon Courtney was hit by a pitch.
Collins then gave way to reliever Evan Schwartz, who quickly got two outs, but Nate Goonan hit a line drive home run to left to make it an 8-6 game.
Schwartz was able to close the door in the fifth and worked a relatively quiet sixth, allowing a single to Kyle Bosse before earning the final two outs.
"These kids pretty much always believe. No matter who was out there, they were all supportive," said North coach Matt Pellerin of his team's comeback effort. "They worked hard. It didn't matter, win or lose."
With Bedford on top 3-0 in the third, Schwartz walked and Spencer Adams hit a two-run homer. Collins' second blast followed to make it 6-0. Schwartz singled home a run in the fourth and Collins scored on a Cade Destafani bunt in the fifth to make it 8-3.
North got its first runs on a two-run double from Swetland in the third to make it 6-2. Collins emerged from the fourth with only one run allowed on a Bosse RBI single that made it 7-3.
It could have been a big inning for North, but a double play erased two baserunners.
It was nearly a triple play started by Schwartz at third base, but Jack Mulcahy beat the final throw to first.