BERWICK — Much of the Ararat 12U All-Star squad has been here before, a mere three years ago to be exact. In 2018, when most members of this years’ team were just 9 years old, they made a deep run in the 9U New England regional tournament in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Now, they’re doing it once more, this time in the 12U New England Regional tournament.

“I think we were just happy to be there back in 2018,” said Ararat head coach Jon Hiltz. “It was a good experience for the players at such a young age. Now we have a bigger goal in mind that we want to achieve.”

Tyler Thibeault of Ararat watches a pitch in the dirt during a 12U Cal Ripken New England regional game against Milton (Massachusetts) American on Tuesday at Memorial Field in Berwick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

On Tuesday, Ararat took another step toward reaching the ultimate goal — the World Series — by beating Milton (Massachusetts) 14-8 on a humid day at Memorial Park. Ararat rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a 12-run fourth inning to secure the victory and a 3-0 record in pool play.

“I think we were in our own heads to begin with,” said Ararat’s Colby MacFawn, who socked a home run to center field to cap the fourth inning surge. “They made a pitching change and we adjusted to the next guy; that was definitely a fun inning.”

The eight-team tournament opened last weekend. Ararat (the 12U state champ) and Noble (host team) are representing Maine. There are two teams from New Hampshire (Berlin-Gorham and Gilford), two from Massachusetts (Concord and Milton), and one each from Connecticut (West Hartford) and Vermont (Central Vermont, which is based out of South Royalton).

The eight teams are split into two different groups. The American group features Ararat, Gilford, Milton and West Hartford, while the National group features of Berlin-Gorham, Central Vermont, Concord, and Noble.

Going into Tuesday’s showdown, Ararat and Milton were 2-0 and tied for first atop the American pool.

The anticipation heading into the matchup just gave Ararat more motivation on Tuesday.

Brady Hiltz of Ararat delivers a pitch during a 12U Cal Ripken New England regional game against Milton (Massachusetts) American on Tuesday at Memorial Field in Berwick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“We want to win every time, but this one was a big one for us,” said Ararat third basemen Will Davis, who was named player of the game. “It’s a great honor, but I couldn’t have been as productive as I was without my teammates. They’re the ones who got on base.”

Ararat will next play Thursday against the winner between the No. 2 seed out of the National pool and the No. 3 out of the American pool. Either way, Hiltz and the rest of the team knows there’s a lot more work to be done.

“I told the guys after the game how proud I am of how they’ve played, but the job isn’t finished,” he said. “Our philosophy has been to take everything one game at a time, even one out at a time. Nothing has changed there. They haven’t won anything yet.”

After both sides went scoreless through the first two innings, Milton broke through in the third inning highlighted by a Timmy O’Sullivan two-run single to make it 3-0.

Ararat was quick to respond.

In the top of the fourth, it sent 17 hitters to the plate, plated 12 runs, and put together seven hits in the frame. They took the lead when Danny Millson stroked an RBI single to right to make it 4-3.

“That was certainly the most runs we’ve scored in an inning this season,” said Hiltz. “That’s something that’s great about this team, whenever we’re down we don’t give up and claw our way back like we did today (Tuesday).”

Milton did what it could to get back in the game, but pitchers Daniel Beal, who earned the victory, and MacFawn quelled any potential threats.

MacFawn and Milton’s Jake Fraley, who homered in the fifth, were awarded home run medals. Teddy Dunn of Milton was named the team player of the game.

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