Manchester 14’s take N.E. Babe Ruth baseball title
The Manchester Mickey Hanagan Babe Ruth All-Stars are heading to the World Series.
Drew Merrick’s walk-off single to left field with two outs plated Nate Hall with the winning run in a 6-5 victory over Waterford, Conn. for the 14-year-old New England Regional Tournament title at Bullens Field in Westfield, Mass., Tuesday.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Manchester manager Mickey Hanagan. “I said before the season started this was going to be a very good team. We have pitching, defense and offense. All three phases of the game clicked for us.”
Manchester ended up winning all five regional games, the last four by one run, including the last two games under a single-elimination format.
On Monday, they pulled out a 5-4 seventh inning win to beat Warwick R.I., in the semifinals and Tuesday, the Hanagans regrouped after Waterford scored three times in the sixth inning to tie the game, 5-5.
In the home seventh, Hall was hit by a pitch with two outs and advanced to second on an errant pick-off throw by the Waterford pitcher. A routine grounder to short drew a low throw to first base which was bobbled for an error, allowing Matt Reynolds to reach safely. Hall advanced to third base on the error and jogged home with the winning run, greeting his teammates after Merrick delivered his clutch hit.
“We got a break on the error because the Waterford shortstop has a gun for an arm,” said Hanagan. “He just threw it too low and Merrick did the rest. Luck plays a part in deciding big games and we took advantage of an error on their part in the last inning.”
Manchester took the early lead in the first inning when Hall drove in Pat Swanson with a single. Waterford gained a brief 2-1 second-inning lead, but the Hanagans regained a 3-2 edge in the home second.
Merrick singled, stole second and stayed there on a walk to Johnny Robinson. A sacrifice bunt from Nick Salcito advanced the runners and Jason Derome drove them home with a single.
Manchester padded its lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning. Joey Silva singled, stole second and bolted home on a double by Garrett Olivar. Hall, who finished the game with two hits, plated Olivar with a single.
Starting and winning pitcher Matt Reynolds went the distance, fanning four, walking two and allowing seven hits.
Manchester pounded out 11 hits as Merrick and Swanson each had two hits.
Manchester will return home to enjoy the regional title before resuming play on Aug. 14 when the World Series opens in Moses Lake, Wash.