MANCHESTER — The tying run was 90 feet away, but that was where it would stay for Bedford.
The New Hampshire state champions loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning but could not get another run home, falling to Westfield, Mass., 4-3, in 13-year-old Babe Ruth New England Regional Tournament losers’ bracket play at Gill Stadium Tuesday night.
Bedford finished at 2-2 while Westfield (3-1) will meet the loser of Tuesday night’s winners’ bracket game between Plymouth, Mass., and Coventry, R.I., in the only game on the slate tonight, set for 6 at Gill.(For results of Tuesday night’s late night, visit UnionLeader.com.)The finals will take place Thursday night at 5 with a second game scheduled for 8 p.m., if needed.
Bedford’s Brennan Hughes reached base on an error with one out in the top of the seventh. Connor Collins flied out to right field, but back-to-back walks to Grant Lavigne and Nick Mokas gave Bedford two-out life.
But Westfield reliever John Daley got Joey Barrett to fly out to left field to end the game.
“Coming down to the last pitch of the game tells you how good a game it was,” said Bedford manager Kevin Lavigne. “It was back and forth most of the game. The kids battled to the end. They showed great character. We were one hit away from a different ending.”
Playing as the home team, Westfield scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Westfield used three infield hits and a passed ball to plate the run and break a 3-3 tie.
With one out, Jack Yvon’s grounder to Barrett at shortstop was too deep to allow a play at first. Dalen Mochak hit a grounder to third that Ryan Lee snagged, but there was again no time for a throw.
Lavigne got Sam St. Jean to fly out to center for the second out, but Andrew Tobias’ soft bloop dropped in at shortstop to load the bases. A passed ball with Aidan Dunn at bat brought pinch runner Nick Garde home to make it 4-3 Westfield.
“It was a little unusual. There were some balls that almost had eyes and landed in very inopportune places,” Kevin Lavigne said. “We’re trying to play back with two outs and give our infielders a little more cushion for the hard-hit ball and instead they laid three soft balls on us. But that’s part of the game.”
Bedford scored a single run in the top of the first inning to draw first blood. Leadoff hitter Hughes singled, moved to second base on Lavigne’s one-out walk and then scored on a single down the left field line by Barrett.
Westfield came back with a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first. Kyle Roberts and Dillon Bazegian opened with back-to-back singles and advanced on a passed ball. Mitchell Longley hit a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Roberts and Yvon grounded out to shortstop to score Bazegian.
Bedford tied the game at 2-2 with another single run in the third. Hughes singled, advanced to second on a groundout from Collins and then scored on a Lavigne single into center field.
Westfield reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third, pulling ahead 3-2. Bazegian drew a one-out walk and moved to second base on a wild pitch. With one out, Yvon singled to left field to bring Bazegian in.
Bedford once again put up a single run, this time in the fifth to tie the game 3-3. Collins walked and stole second base, scoring when Lavigne’s hard shot to first base skipped past Mochak and into right field.