J.P. Ricciardi, the special assistant to the general manager of the New York Mets, watched a game Saturday at the American Legion Northeast Regional at Old Orchard Beach, but wasn’t there strictly on business.

Ricciardi’s son, Dante, plays for the East Side Post 205 team from Worcester, Mass.

“My son is only 14 so he’s kind of low man on the totem pole,” said Ricciardi, who grew up in Worcester, Mass., and played for the same Legion team. “They got him in (games) here and there.”

Dante Ricciardi, a middle infielder, didn’t play in the Massachusetts state champions’ dramatic 8-7 victory Saturday against Cranston, R.I., in an elimination-round game.

But his dad had more than passing interest in one of the players from Rhode Island.

In June, the Mets selected Jeff Diehl of Cranston in the 23rd round of the draft.

“He’s a good young kid, a good athlete,” Ricciardi said. “I went to see him twice and I really like the way he swings the bat. He’s going to get bigger and stronger, you know, and there’s a lot of upside with him. Our area scout really liked him a lot.”

Now that the Cranston has been eliminated from the eight-team tournament for players 19 and under, Diehl intends to sign with the Mets.

“I’m going to go down to Port St. Lucie (in the rookie Gulf Coast League) for a couple of weeks, then I’ll come back to Rhode Island for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll go back to Port St. Lucie for instructional league,” Diehl said.

The Mets drafted the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Diehl as a catcher, but he was unable to play that position in the regional because of an injury to his throwing hand.

“I cut my finger open in the state championship game. I got spiked,” he said. “I can barely even hold the bat.”

Diehl sat out Cranston’s first game in the tournament Thursday night.

“His hand wasn’t healthy,” Cranston Manager David Schiappa said. “We had him checked out (Friday), so we put him in right field where he would feel comfortable.”

Diehl, who won a home run derby Wednesday night prior to the tournament, went 0 for 7 in his two games.

“They threw off-speed pitches and pitched around me,” he said.

“Obviously they’re not going to pitch much to him,” Schiappa said.

Ricciardi, in his first year with the Mets, last season worked as an analyst on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.” Before that, he spent eight years as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ricciardi has a long connection with Maine. While working as an area scout for the Oakland A’s, he signed former UMaine players Mike Bordick of Winterport and Billy Reynolds of Auburn. In 2003, Bordick spent his final major league season with the Blue Jays when Ricciardi was GM.

BEDFORD, N.H. 4, NORWALK, CONN. 2: Ryan Mossman’s two-run double keyed a three-run second inning for Bedford, which remained undefeated in the tournament.

Michael Skilton added a home run in the third for Bedford. Tom Hudon struck out six and allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits in six innings for the win.

Matt Ederle hit a solo homer for Norwalk in the first.

WORCESTER, MASS., 8, CRANSTON, R.I. 7: Regan Aghdam led off the ninth inning with a homer as East Side Post 201 own an elinination game at Old Orchard Beach.

Aghdam’s winning homer came after Cranston rallied for four runs in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-7.

WHITESTOWN, N.Y. 6, COLCHESTER, VT. 5: After building an early 5-0 lead, Whitestown held on to win an elimination game at Old Orchard Beach.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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