OLD ORCHARD BEACH – First Title of Maine was thin on pitching heading into the final day of the American Legion Baseball Northeast Regional on Monday at The Ballpark.

In a five-day, double-elimination tournament, it often comes down to which team has the most pitching depth.

That was Milford, Conn., which beat First Title 9-1 to earn a spot in the Legion World Series.

Milford (30-6) also showed plenty of offense, as it build a 5-0 lead after two innings. The Connecticut team banged out 12 hits. Cory Hadden, the No. 1 pitcher, allowed six hits in nine innings.

First Title (23-10), composed of Cheverus High players, stayed alive in the tournament by beating Barnstable, Mass., 6-5 in 12 innings on Sunday.

The Maine champions needed two wins over Milford, which was unbeaten in the tournament, to advance to the World Series. Milford beat First Title 4-1 Saturday night.

“It’s been a great run,” said First Title Coach Mac McKew. “The veteran players like Louie (DiStasio) and Harry (Ridge) can look back at four great years of high school and Legion baseball.

“We ran out of gas. Playing 12 innings the day before didn’t help. Milford is a very good team. I wish all the best for them in the World Series.”

First Title went 3-2 in the regional, with its other wins coming against Woonsocket, R.I., and Saratoga, N.Y.

“It was a great experience,” said DiStasio, who will play baseball at the University of Rhode Island. “We came up short against Connecticut on Saturday night. Harry pitched a great game. They got the hits and we didn’t.”

In the rematch, Milford took control early.

“Their first five runs came after two were out,” said McKew. “But then again, we only scored one run.”

DiStasio, First Title’s No. 1 pitcher, was eligible to pitch, but McKew felt he didn’t have sufficient rest after throwing eight innings and 128 pitches Friday night against Saratoga.

“These guys get taxed in a tournament. I want my pitchers to have careers, not Tommy John surgery,” he said.

Had the game been close in the late innings, DiStasio, who also plays shortstop, said he would have been available for a couple innings of relief.

First Title went with a pair of left-handers. Nate Smith started but lasted only two innings. Brad Murray pitched the rest of the way.

First Title’s only run came in the fourth. Tyler Flaherty led off with a double and went to third on a single by Drew Ferrick. One batter later, Felix delVecchio drove in Flaherty with a sacrifice fly to left.

Milford sent eight batters to the plate and scored three runs in the bottom of the first. The rally featured five straight hits, with the big blow being Joe Zanghi’s two-run homer that got caught up in the wind blowing out to left field.

Shawn Cariglio had a two-run single in the second. In the eighth, he cleared the bases with a triple to right-center that made it 9-1.

Ed Michaud of Milford was named the tournament MVP. The third baseman had two hits and scored three runs in the final game.

Milford needed to win a play-in game to make its state tournament, where it was also unbeaten. Counting regular season and tournament play, the team has won 17 straight games heading into the World Series, which begins Friday night in Shelby, N.C.

“This season has been a dream,” said Michaud. “To be one of the top eight teams in the country is something I can’t get my mind around yet.”

Michaud said his team’s pitching depth comes from position players being able to throw complete games, like center fielder Jake Saley, who went nine innings on Saturday against First Title.

“It’s great when those guys come in and throw a complete game,” said Michaud.

Michaud was impressed with First Title.

“They’re an awesome team,” he said. “They put hits together so well. They certainly deserved to be here.”

And as for The Ballpark?

“It’s a gorgeous field. It’s my favorite to play on,” he said.

 

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

[email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH