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July 18. 2013 2:51PM

Salem heads to state championship against Rye

Matt Zifchak of Bedford made it to second on a first-base error in the third. (Jon Tripp Photo)

Salem clinched the New Hampshire Little League District 1 (Majors 11 & 12) championship with a 9-7 win against Bedford after John Olivo broke a tie score with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

During the July 15 game at Michele Park in Salem, Bedford took an early 5-0 lead. Spencer Adams grounded out to drive in Graham Reynolds in the first and scored another four runs in the second from a pair of two-run doubles from Evan Schwartz and Noah Hughes.

After Salem’s Nick Delany got a base hit and Mike Borrelli hit a homerun in the second, they managed to stay in the game with a score of 5-2 going into the third inning. Bedford was looking strong, but Salem felt they were still in the game.

After a third-inning error by Salem turned a Bedford base hit into a double, it felt to many like Bedford was going to continue to dominate Salem as they had in the previous game. Bedford won that game in a 19-1 blowout to force Monday night’s winner-take-all final game.

Salem’s manager Dean Borrelli was still confident.

“The pitcher had our number in the last game. We had a plan (for this one) and stuck with it. They didn’t quit. There were no heads down.”

Salem captured the lead in the third after Nick Robertson hit a grand slam driving in Olivo, Matt Soldano, and Jake Emerson to make it 6-5. Delaney scored again with a solo homerun to close out the inning with a score of 7-5 Salem.

“It was a great example of the kids relying on each other and their resilience when it was 5-0 to not quit. The kids stayed in there and fought the whole way”, said Borrelli.

At the top of the fifth, Bedford’s Alex Douidi was hit with an errant pitch and Matt Zifchak singled, setting them up to be driven home by a right field single from Luke Ramsay. The game was tied at 7-7 going into the sixth.

Olivo shut down Bedford’s momentum by pitching a one-two-three inning at the top of the sixth. Salem’s John Palardy opened the bottom of the sixth with a base hit. Olivo was sitting on a 1-2 count with one out when he knocked the game winning home run over the center field fence.

“I had the 1-2 count and was waiting for the curve, but knew the fast ball was coming. I was just trying to make contact.”, said Olivo. When asked how he felt about their chances after being down 5-0, he said, “There was no doubt. We just had to keep our heads up!”

Salem now advances to the state finals with a best of three series against the District 2 champions, Rye.

Bedford manager Tim DeStefani, thinks they’ll do well and wished them luck.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “We hit well, but they had the timely hits at the end. We knew they would be a tough team. They didn’t get a lot of hits, but they managed to score off of them.”

Game 1 of the state finals will be played in Manchester on Saturday, July 20, at 4 p.m. Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 21. If needed, a game 3 decider will be played on Tuesday, July 23, at 5:45 p.m. The winner of the best of three series will go on to the regional finals in Bristol, Conn.

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