BRISTOL, Conn. – Saco Little League Manager Todd Duchaine did everything he could Friday to keep his team in its New England Regional opener against Lincoln, R.I.
He changed pitchers early and often, using a total of six, but Saco could not slow down an offensive powerhouse as Lincoln posted an 11-2 victory at Breen Field.
Saco doesn’t have time to dwell on the defeat, as it returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday against Newton, Mass.
“As I told the kids at the end of the game, the scoreboard was not indicative of how close that game was,” Duchaine said. “It was a much closer game than 11-2. A couple plays, and it was a 5-2 game.”
Aaron DeSousa went 4 for 5 for Lincoln, which improved to 10-0 in the postseason, having outscored its opponents 113-14. Seven of its 10 games have ended early because of the mercy rule.
“We don’t see six pitchers in a game very often, but I adjusted to every pitcher and put the ball in play,” DeSousa said.
Saco wiggled out of trouble early, allowing one run in each of the first two innings.
But Lincoln erupted for five runs in the top of the third to open a 7-0 lead, then tacked on a run in the fifth and three in the sixth.
Lincoln is making its eighth appearance in the regionals since 1999, but it’s the first trip for the current group.
“The jitters were high, the nerves were unbelievable,” Lincoln Manager Matthew Netto said. “It was intense for a couple innings, but we pulled through and settled in.”
Lincoln took the lead in the top of the first, as DeSousa led off with a single, went to second on Dave Bordieri’s single and scored on an error.
Saco starter Luke Chessie was pulled after just two-thirds of an inning, replaced by Anthony Bracamonte, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam.
In the second, Timmy Smith took over for Bracamonte and allowed a bases-loaded infield single to Lincoln’s starting pitcher, Kyle Marrapese.
Stephen Andrews delivered an RBI single in the third, and Marrapese added a run-scoring double. Lincoln also scored two runs in the inning on wild pitches and one on an error.
“We dodged a couple bullets (in the first two innings), but in that inning we just couldn’t dodge a bullet,” Duchaine said. “They had a couple base hits that weren’t that well hit, but they were well-placed and they fell in.”
Smith was pulled after allowing four runs. Michael Bourgault (two runs), Brogan Searle-Belanger (three unearned runs) and Andrew DeGeorge also pitched for Saco.
“All my pitchers pitched today on my normal staff,” Duchaine said. “The bad news is we lost today. The good news is that we’re set up pitching-wise for the rest of the tournament.”
Saco had a chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with no outs. But Zarek Larisa replaced Marrapese and allowed only two runs on Chessie’s fielder’s choice and Smith’s steal of home.
Four of the six outs Larisa recorded were on strikeouts. Saco managed just one hit over the final three innings.
“Bases loaded and no outs, and (Larisa) gets out of it with two runs and no hits,” Netto said. “He was lights out.”
Hunter Penley, Derek Madore and Matthew Duchaine had the only hits for Saco.