BRISTOL, Conn. — Located just a few miles from the Giamatti Little League Center here is Lake Compounce, the nation’s oldest continuously-operating amusement park.

There are four roller coasters on the grounds and that somehow seems appropriate since the Saco Little League team has been on its own hairy ride in the New England Regionals.

The Maine champions opened with a blowout 11-2 loss to Lincoln, R.I., rebounded with a 12-1 win over Newton, Mass., and then were the victims of a combined perfect game in Sunday’s 8-0 loss to Westport, Conn.

But as Manager Todd Duchaine said after the Newton game, the objective is to reach the semifinals and that is still attainable.

Saco concludes pool play on Tuesday against South Burlington, Vermont (1 p.m., NESN) and likely needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, although it might still have an outside chance to advance even at 1-3 depending on tiebreakers.

“Even though we’re 1-2, I think we control our own fate,” Duchaine said.

“If we win (on Tuesday), we should be in. But not only should we be in, there’s a good chance of being the third seed because we would own the head-to-head (tiebreaker) against Vermont. It’s up to us. We’re set for pitching, we just need to hit the ball a little better.”

The mathematical permutations of a four-game pool play format makes it nearly impossible for a .500 team not to advance to the semifinals.

While Saco was overmatched against Connecticut pitchers Chad Knight and Max Popken on Sunday, Duchaine is confident his team will bounce back.

“They’ve been down many times before in past tournaments and they have a history of coming back after a loss and doing well,” Duchaine said.

Beating South Burlington, however, is not going to be easy. The Vermonters opened regional play with a 9-2 loss to Westport on Friday, but have rebounded with two wins since then — and they did have an early 2-0 lead against Westport.

They defeated Rye, N.H., 12-2 on Saturday, then handed Lincoln, R.I., its first loss on Monday, an 8-1 drubbing.

“Certainly they have some momentum, so we’re going to have to do something about that,” Duchaine said. “Hopefully, we can quiet them with our pitching and good defense and get our bats going.”

Reaching the semis would be a significant accomplishment for Saco since Maine teams have historically not done well in the New England Regionals.

They have made it out of pool play only three times: Augusta West in 2003, followed by Westbrook in 2005 and Portland North in 2007.

Westbrook reached the semis despite a 1-3 record in pool play, then made history by winning two playoff games to become Maine’s third and most recent team to reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.


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