MANCHESTER — After an opening-round loss in which Bedford issued eight walks and committed five errors, the mantra became "pitch ahead and play good defense."
Bedford did just that Monday night, knocking off New Milford, Conn. 9-4 in losers' bracket play of the Babe Ruth 13-year-old New England Regional Tournament at Gill Stadium.
Bedford is 2-1 in the tournament and will play Westfield, Mass., which beat Brattleboro, Vt., Tuesday back at Gill. In Tuesday night's 8 p.m. game, Plymouth, Mass., will meet Coventry, R.I., in the winners' bracket.
"The theme (Monday) was to get ahead in the count and play good defense and it worked," Bedford manager Kevin Lavigne said. "We turned three double plays tonight. That's pretty unusual at the 13-year-old level. They were all timely ones. We gave ourselves short innings on defense. That was critical."
Bedford broke open a 2-2 game with three runs in bottom of the fourth and four more in the fifth. Second baseman Landon Jennings led off the fourth with a single and moved to second on Patrick Harrington's bunt. Brennan Hughes and Connor Collins walked to load the bases and Grant Lavigne drove a single down the first base line to score a pair. Pitcher Geoff Mousseau dropped a single into center field to score Collins for the 5-2 lead.
New Milford got a run back in the fifth when Colin Linder led off with a single, moved to third on a Rodriguez double and scored on an Alec Lubas single. Mousseau struck out Mitch Cavaliere and got a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Bedford added to its lead in the fifth, pulling ahead 9-3. Ryan Lee led off with a double, Jennings walked and Harrington reached when a fielder's choice erased Lee at third. Hughes hit a two-run double and Collins singled home Hughes to make it 8-3. Lavigne and Mousseau walked to load the bases and New Milford reliever Gavin Titus walked Peyton Murray to score Collins with the ninth Bedford run.
New Milford got a run back in the sixth on a Titus double and Colin Linder RBI fielder's choice, but Bedford relief man Tim Saltzman closed the door in the sixth and then worked out of trouble in the seventh when New Milford had two runners on with two out.
New Milford opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning. Rodriguez singled and Lubas followed with a base hit. Cavaliere walked to load the bases. A fielder's choice groundout from Derek Profita scored Rodriguez. Mousseau then induced a groundout to the mound from Titus, fielded the ball, threw home for the force out and Harrington completed the double play with a throw to first to end the inning.
Bedford answered in the bottom of the first, tying the game at 1-1. Leadoff hitter Hughes singled to center field. Collins walked and Lavigne bounced into a fielder's choice to erase Collins and move Hughes to third. Mousseau bounced into a fielder's choice to score Hughes. Joey Barrett and Murray walked, but starter Zach Prahac was able to strike out Nick Mokas to end the threat and leave the score 1-1.
Bedford took a 2-1 lead in the third when Collins walked, stole second base and then scored when Mousseau's single got past left fielder Connor Douskey. New Milford tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth on a leadoff triple from Douskey and RBI groundout from Noah Martinez.
The game was halted in the top of the third inning when a loud boom of thunder sent the players scurrying into the dugouts for a 30-minute delay.
Westfield, Mass. eliminated Brattleboro, Vt. 8-0 in the 13-year-old New England Regional Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament at Gill Stadium in Manchester Monday.
On Tuesday Westfield plays New Hampshire state champion Bedford at 5 p.m. and Coventry, R.I. meets Plymouth, Mass. in the winners’ bracket finals at 8 p.m.