OLD ORCHARD BEACH – After a 45-minute rain delay at the start, First Title and Milford, Conn., zipped through nine innings in just under two hours.

When it was over, Milford stayed unbeaten and gained the driver’s seat with a 4-1 win over the Maine champions in the American Legion Baseball Northeast Regional tournament Saturday night at The Ballpark.

In losing its first game in the double-elimination tournament, First Title will attempt to stave off an exit at 1 p.m. Sunday against Barnstable, Mass., which also has lost once.

Milford will play once-beaten Concord, N.H., at 7 p.m. The tournament ends Monday.

First Title ran into a hot pitcher in Jake Saley, who scattered six hits and struck out four.

Harry Ridge of Cheverus got touched for some early runs but got stronger as the game went along.

“We missed out on two opportunities,” said First Title Coach Mac McKew. “We should have scored three runs in the inning we scored our run. We had some poor at-bats. We popped the ball up. Pop outs will drive you nuts.”

The other opportunity McKew mentioned was the eighth, when his team loaded the bases with one out.

Peter Potthoff hit a hard grounder to third. Ed Michaud made a diving stab, stepped on third for the force and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.

That was the ball game, for all intents and purposes.

“The Michaud kid made a great play,” said McKew.

Michaud also recorded the first out of the inning when he went near the dugout to catch a foul pop off the bat of Nic Lops.

Lops came to bat with two on, but one of the tournament’s toughest hitters couldn’t deliver like he did in the first two games.

“Ridge settled down and pitched a gutsy game,” said McKew.

Ridge gave up eight hits and struck out five.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s action, McKew said: “Now we have to do it the hard way. We’ll have to grind it out the rest of the way.”

Milford scored two runs in the second and added single runs in the third and eighth innings.

Milford’s two runs in the second came after two were out. Ridge walked two straight batters. Matt Ferraiola singled, and Nick Pinto’s hit to right drove in the first run. Sean Cameron doubled to right to score the second run.

In the third, Michaud led off with a double down the left-field line. One batter later, Shawn Cariglio, who had been in a slump, singled sharply to right to make it 3-0.

First Title’s lone run in the sixth cut it to 3-1. Lops’ infield single scored Felix delVecchio, who had doubled.

First Title went down in order in the ninth.

It was a long day of baseball for Milford, which had to play a 9:30 a.m. game against Barnstable that was postponed from Friday night.

Milford beat the Massachusetts champ, then went back to its hotel for some rest before returning to face First Title.

The teams were about to start play when the rains came. The grounds crew covered the mound and home plate with tarps. After the rain ended, the grounds crew put quick drying material on the infield.

Lops and Mullen had two hits apiece for First Title. Pinto, the No. 9 batter for Milford, led his team with three hits.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH