The Post 76 of North Haven, Connecticut, celebrate an U19 Championship at the second annual All-American Lighthouse Classic at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach on Monday. Post 76 defeated the Southern Maine River Rats 6-3. (SAM BONSEY/Journal Tribune)

OLD ORCHARD — The second annual All-American Lighthouse Classic featured a local team playing for a title and an unlikely late-inning rally that produced a champion. 

The North Haven Post 76 of Connecticut scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth to erase a three-run deficit and defeat the Southern Maine River Rats, 6-3, in the Under-19 Championship at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach on Monday. 

“They had a couple of fortunately placed ground balls that found their way into the outfield,” said River Rats head coach Marcus Crowell. “Our pitchers made good pitches, but sometimes the game of baseball can kind of take control of the game. It did in that (fifth) inning.”

The River Rats jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Owen Cox, of Lewiston, and Cody Allen, of Naples, came around to score on an error from Gianni DiMartimo. Then, with runners on first and third, Southern Maine executed a double-steal attempt that scored Kyle Kruse, of Skowhegan, to extend its lead to 3-0. 

But Post 76 finally solved River Rats starter Cox in the bottom half of the fifth. Cox quickly notched the first two outs of the frame, but then he allowed a single and two walks to load the bases. That prompted Crowell to bring in Brady Wildes, who just finished his junior season at Biddeford High. 

Wildes got Daniel Cannavaciolo to hit a soft grounder, but Allen couldn’t come up with the ball, which allowed a run to score. Hunter Garthwait followed with his single to tie the game. Then, after DiMartino scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, David Christoforo hit his two-run single to right field to make it 6-3. 

Despite a couple of miscues in the inning, Crowell was pleased with the effort his team displayed over the weekend. Southern Maine finished the four-day tournament 3-1 with wins over RCP Post 105 from Connecticut (8-7), the Rutland Post 131 from Vermont (5-3) and the Storm Brigade Baseball from Massachusetts (9-1)  

“We were consistent with what we got from our pitchers,” Crowell said. “We were really sound defensively, and the key to us scoring runs was timely hits.”

The tournament followed the second annual College Showcase Camp last Thursday at Costello Sports Complex at the University of Maine. Nearly 30 college coaches and scouts came to evaluate players across the northeast region. Twenty-seven of those coaches, said director Mark Scott, stuck around to watch the games.

“Part of this tournament is to also have people take stock into visiting Maine,” Scott said. “I think the tournament went exceptionally well considering the weather we had Thursday and Friday … Maine has been such a good place for us, and we really had no complaints from anyone.”

And while Crowell said his team would’ve liked to have won the championship, he admits the most important part of the weekend is for his players to gain exposure to further advance their playing careers.

“As a coach, you’re always trying to find that sweet spot between giving kids that opportunity and hanging them out to dry,” Crowell said.  “This tournament does a great job of providing that.”


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