Nick Anderson of Scarborough, left, is welcomed by teammate Jared Brooks after scoring Wednesday during the 3-0 victory against Bedford, N.H., at Bristol, Conn.
By KEN LIPSHEZ Special to the Press Herald
BRISTOL, Conn. - Jared Brooks, Nick Anderson and their Scarborough Little League teammates were well aware that Wednesday would mark the end of the line at the Eastern Regionals.
After blowing through 10 district and state games without a loss, they suffered successive one-run defeats before a blowout loss, eliminating them from reaching the New England semifinals.
They could have mailed it in. They didn't.
Brooks pitched a two-hitter into the fifth inning and Anderson ripped a single that keyed a three-run rally as Scarborough made the trip home more pleasant with a 3-0 victory against Bedford, N.H.
Scarborough started the tournament with a 5-4 loss to Wellesley (Mass.) South, then fell 1-0 to Coventry, R.I., before a 15-2 loss to Fairfield, Conn. Yet the only disappointment Manager Neal Pratt sensed had nothing to do with what happened on the field.
"We all know tournament play, and hats off to the teams that win," he said. "We were just a play from winning our first two games. We played well and faced some good pitching, but so did the other teams.
"I think this team can compete with anybody here. The record that we leave here is not reflective of that, except we leave here with a win against a very good New Hampshire team. I'm just as proud of these guys as I can be. The only disappointment for me is this was the last game I get to coach these boys and I've been coaching them for a long, long time."
Brooks and New Hampshire starter Joseph Quintal had shutouts through four innings.
Andrew Goodwin began the fifth by battling Quintal for 10 pitches before sending a single past the first baseman. Owen Garrard followed with a single to left.
Anderson's task was to bunt the runners into scoring position.
"I went down two strikes off pitches I should have let go by," said Anderson, who with Goodwin began the game as reserves. "I was kind of mad at myself. Coach says to hit the ball really well, you have to get mad at yourself as well as the pitcher. I just wanted to rip the ball."
Garrard raced to third and Anderson to second on the late throw home. That enabled the top of the Scarborough order to play small ball to perfection. Grounders by Morgan Pratt and Connor Kelly brought home two more runs.
Brooks protected the lead by inducing a grounder to first and recorded his sixth strikeout before giving way to Zoltan Panyi for the save.
Brooks (0.00 ERA in 71/3 innings for the tourney) said he commanded all three of his pitches. He didn't allow a batted ball to get out of the infield and only one out -- a soft liner to first -- was made in the air.
"I have two types of curveballs, one that is faster and one that is slower, and I had my fastball," he said. "I was mixing up my pitches quite a bit. The fast curveball looks like the fastball coming in and it will just drop. It gets the hitters on their front foot."
Panyi hit his first batter but ended the New Hampshire fifth by striking out Quintal. He got the first two of the sixth on groundouts, yielded a single, then struck out the final batter.
Panyi had two of Scarborough's eight hits. Brooks and Justin Tanguay also had singles.Tweet
Jared Brooks (21) receives congratulations from his infielders Wednesday before leaving the mound because he reached his pitch count. Brooks led Scarborough to a 3-0 victory over Bedford, N.H.
Owen Garrard reaches third base as Grant Lavigne of Bedford, N.H., waits for the throw at the Little League regional.