Two losses over the weekend have placed the Manchester Mickey Hanagan All-Stars in a deep hole, but the manager still thinks his team can climb out.
“We just played the best two teams in our division and we believe we’re still in this,” said Hanagan following Sunday’s 11-7 loss to Pacific Southwest champion Westchester, Calif., in the second round of the 14-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball World Series in Moses Lake, Wash.
Manchester dropped a 4-1 first round encounter to Southeast champion Longwood, Fla., on Saturday.
The Hanagans are idle Monday and will resume play Tuesday at 8 p.m. against North Washington regional champ Puget Sound, Wash. The four-game pool play round concludes Wednesday at 2 p.m. against Pacific Northwest champion Tualation, Ore.
“We’ve got to win the next two games and we’re capable of doing it,” said Hanagan. “California and Florida are the top two teams in our division and we played with them. California hit the ball (14 total hits) well today and they got off to a fast start with seven runs in the first inning. Florida scored four runs and three of them were unearned because we made three errors. I’m still confident we can come back.”
Manchester’s goal is to reach Thursday’s start to the single-elimination format of the World Series. The top three teams after pool play in each division (American and National) qualify for the single-elimination round. The top two teams draw a bye Thursday while the second- and third-place teams play Thursday.
The two semifinal winners on Friday will advance to Saturday’s 4 p.m. title game.
Hanagan said his team may be without catcher Nate Hall, who injured his left ankle sliding into a base in the fourth inning.
“It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to play the rest of the way,” said Hanagan. “They sent him to the hospital for x-rays. I’m hoping to hear it’s not that serious, but it appeared to be a severe sprain when he left the field.”
Jake Poitras will fill the void behind the plate. “Jake has a good arm and even threw out a couple of runners,” said Hanagan. “We’ll miss Nate, but Jake is more than capable of doing the job behind the plate.”
Westchester batted first Sunday and quickly set the tone.
Hanagan starter Matt Reynolds allowed the first six batters to reach safely in the first inning and was down 4-0 before he registered two straight strikeouts. But a three-run homer from No. 9 hitter Dailin Lee pushed Westchester’s lead to 7-0.
Garret Olivar, who had three hits, singled in the first inning for Manchester and scored the Hanagan’s first run on an error. Pat Swanson made it 7-2 when he scored later in the inning from third base on a balk.
Manchester closed the gap to 8-5 in the second inning with three runs as Nick Salcito, Olivar and Swanson each had consecutive RBI hits.
Westchester forged ahead 10-5 and Manchester got those two runs back in the home third.
Joey Silva plated Drew Merrick (triple) with a sacrifice fly and Salcito made it 10-7 with an RBI single, scoring Reynolds who walked. Westchester kept the pressure on, scoring a run in the fourth inning for an 11-7 edge.
On Saturday, Longwood scored single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-0 lead. Manchester’s lone run was scored in the sixth inning. Jon Robinson reached on a fielders’ choice, advanced to second on an error and scored on a double by Salcito.
Manchester stranded 11 runners including seven over the last three innings. Salcito and Olivar each had two hits for the Hanagans.
Swanson went the distance, allowing six hits in six innings. He walked three and fanned five.