OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Mitchell Powers scattered seven hits and struck out seven Thursday to lead First Title to a 4-1 win over error-prone Woonsocket, R.I., in the opening round of the American Legion Northeast Regional at The Ballpark.

First Title (21-8) will play Saratoga, N.Y., in a winners’- bracket game at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Saratoga beat Essex Junction, Vt., 3-0.

First Title, made up of Cheverus High players, took advantage of six Woonsocket errors, four in the first inning when First Title took a 2-0 lead. Powers, a junior-to-be, cramped up facing the first batter in the ninth; Louie DiStasio came in to relieve.

“Mitchell used four pitches and mixed them well,” said catcher Nic Lops. “He’s a competitor.”

Woosocket’s defense fell apart after two outs in the first. Harry Ridge reached when center fielder Kevin Reyes dropped his fly ball. The next batter, Peter Potthoff, hit a fly to center that dropped in front of Reyes. The ball got by for a second error with Ridge going to third.

Ridge scored on a single by Drew Ferrick and Potthoff on a shortstop error.

First Title made it 3-0 in the second when DiStasio walked, stole second and scored on a Lops single.

First Title’s final run came across on a wild pitch in the eighth.

“No question, we took advantage of some errors,” said First Title Coach Mac McKew.

“The game would have been a lot tighter had they made those plays. We seemed a little sluggish. We played 10 games in 15 days prior to this. We’ll take it. It’s always nice to win the first game and gain some momentum.”

Woonsocket rebounded from its defensive lapses and kept the game close.

It put runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth, and runners on second and third with one out in the seventh.

Powers got out of both threats, one with a grounder to second and the other with a pop to short.

Woonsocket outhit First Title, 9-6. Powers left after throwing four pitches in the ninth.

“I wish I hadn’t cramped up,” he said. “I wanted to finish the game.”

Prior to that, Powers was working quickly and smoothly.

“I felt real good,” he said. “It was a great day to pitch. I wasn’t that nervous. I did what I had to do to get ready.”

After striking out two batters, DiStasio gave up an RBI single to Matt Bare.

The next batter, Kevin Reyes, singled, sending the tying run to the plate. E.J. Torres then hit a long foul ball to right before DiStasio struck him out to end the game.

McKew said DiStasio will start Friday against Saratoga.

“Louie threw 23 pitches, a little more than we would have liked,” said McKew. “Mitchell mixed it up well and Lops called a good game.”

Of Woosocket’s defensive problems, Powers said: “It happens. Teams have good games and bad games. We played better defense and had them to one run.”

It was Powers’ second win in a regional tournament.

He got a victory while pitching for Portland North Little League, and also lost one while pitching for Portland Babe Ruth.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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