QUINCY, Mass. – Ironically, Portland’s smallest player delivered arguably the biggest hit of the team’s season.

Kevin Goldberg, who checks in at 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds, dumped a single into short left field in the eighth inning Friday, breaking a tie and giving Portland a 2-1 victory against Coventry, R.I., in a first-round game.

Dan Kane and Brad Sowerby led off the eighth with singles, and Kane sped to third when Shawn Pacifico’s pickoff throw sailed into center because nobody was covering second.

Goldberg’s single scored Kane and put Portland in a winners’- bracket game at 9 a.m. Saturday against Waterford, Conn.

Goldberg missed the regular season with a broken leg.

“He may be the smallest guy on the team but he has a big heart,” Portland Coach Ian Boyle said. “He’s just being able to play at 100 percent in this tournament. It’s great to have a kid like that come off the bench. He never got down on himself. He worked his butt off to get back and came through with the big hit.”

Goldberg had to overcome the frustration of being on the outside looking in.

“I wasn’t playing and I’m used to playing a lot,” he said. “That motivated me. I’d throw with my dad (assistant coach Brian Goldberg) with my cast on.

“I always wanted to get to this because last year we won states and lost the first game so it was tough to come back from the losers’ bracket. We were too spent. This year I really wanted to come here and we wanted to win, and I really wanted to be part of that team.”

Portland took a 1-0 lead in the first on Kane’s RBI single. Sowerby, Portland’s starter, then allowed no hits until the sixth.

Kevin Sutyla led off with a single, went to second on Nick Palumbo’s hit-and-run groundout and, after Shaun Vigeant flied out, Tyler Walsh lined an RBI double to left.

Sowerby cruised through five innings on 62 pitches but tired in the sixth, when he threw 23.

“Sowerby was on his game for the first five innings and then he hit a wall,” Boyle said. “He got a little tired but he battled and still got out of a bases-loaded jam, which was big.

“If they scored (another) run, the game was over.”

Sam Luebbert earned the victory by pitching two innings of two-hit, no-walk scoreless ball.

“Sam’s a hard thrower,” Boyle said. “He’s our No. 2 (starter) but you have to win the first game.

“We won our state tournament with pitching and defense. I told our team that’s what’s going to win games. In tournaments like this, we’re not going to score seven, eight or nine runs every game.”


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