BRISTOL, Conn. — Scarborough Little League Manager Corey Frink thinks his defense gets overlooked because of his team’s potent offense and dominant pitching.

Scarborough showed Sunday it can indeed play a little defense too.

Defensive gems by third baseman Ryan Gambardella and shortstop T.J. Liponis in the sixth inning helped the Maine state champions hold off Brattleboro (Vermont) 8-4 in its New England Regional opener at Breen Field.

Starter Sam Clark struck out eight in three innings to earn the win and Nic Frink belted a two-run home run for Scarborough, which faces North Warwick (Rhode Island) at 1 p.m. Monday.

“Our fielding has always been tremendous,” said Frink, whose club has now outscored its opponents in the postseason by a 161-37 margin. “It’s always been hidden because of the other two factors (hitting and pitching).

“But people like T.J – we call him Captain – and Ryan Gambardella make amazing plays. They’re always there. They’re always in the right place. We can count on them.”

Gambardella followed Clark and struck out all four batters he faced, but with Maine leading 8-2, he was pulled after throwing only 21 pitches so that he would be available to pitch Monday.

Brattleboro scored two runs in the fifth off Ben Seguin to make it 8-4. It had runners on the corners in the sixth with no outs when Jack Pattison hit a line drive off Joseph Townsend that appeared headed for the left-field corner. Gambardella made a leaping grab and stepped on third base for an unassisted double play, killing Brattleboro’s momentum.

“It was kind of sigh of relief to have only one person on with two outs,” Gambardella said. “We were one out away from winning our first game.”

Alex Bingham, the next better, hit a grounder that Liponis fielded deep in the hole before firing to second baseman Cade Sullivan for a forceout on a close play at second to end the game. The call was upheld after a video review.

Four Scarborough pitches combined to strike out 13 batters, but Brattleboro out-hit Scarborough 11-9.

Clark, who allowed five hits, including a two-run single to Brattleboro starter Zinabu McNeice in the third, recorded his first seven outs on strikeouts.

“I came out on the mound just thinking throw strikes, pitch to contact,” Clark said. “Try not to overthrow it but sometimes I got a little wild. I tried to dial it in.”

Scarborough made it 2-0 in the first on bases-loaded walks by Gambardella and Sullivan before Nic Frink’s homer in the second made it 4-0.

“I knew there was a man on so I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Frink said. “(McNeice) left it belt high and I took advantage.”

Brattleboro made it 4-2 in the third before Scarborough tacked on four runs in the fourth on a triple by Peter O’Brien, a sacrifice fly by Thomas Donahue, a double by Clark and a wild pitch.

Despite the six-run lead, Corey Frink knew it was no time to relax.

“Every inning before the inning we always talk about how he have to go out and play the game as if it was 0-0,” he said. “Letting up against any of these teams, Vermont included, we knew would come back to haunt us so even though the score said 8-2 we couldn’t play like it was 8-2.”

O’Brien, Frink, Clark and Liponis each finished with two hits for Scarborough.