Catcher David Marchetti hit two home runs including a storybook game winner in extra innings to lead Cranston, Rhode Island, to a 3–2 win over Waterford, Connecticut, in Bristol. Rhode Island’s victory propels them to the New England Regional semi-final game and ends Connecticut’s run toward the Little League World Series.
Marchetti’s walk-off home run to left-center field came with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. “That’s a big swing for him,” Connecticut manager Tim Burrows said after the game. “That’s something he’ll remember his whole life.” Marchetti scored all three runs for Rhode Island.
The game was close all the way through, with the teams trading single runs over the first three half-innings and Rhode Island tying the score at two, on Marchetti’s first home run, in the bottom of the third. Neither team scored for the rest of the regulation six innings played in Little League games.
The game, which was broadcast on ESPN, “could’ve gone either way,” Burrows said. “For a nationally-televised game, I’m sure a lot of people were entertained.”
The game was especially close for this year’s New England Regional play. Of the seven other games played so far in this tournament, only one was decided by fewer than five runs, and three have been won by 10 or more.
“If you only give up three runs in a Little League game,” Burrows said, “you should probably win. Hats off to their pitching.”
Jared Olson got the win for Rhode Island, throwing 1⅔ scoreless innings in relief of Dylan Demers. Demers threw 5⅓ innings of two-run ball and struck out seven. Connor Podeszwa started the pitchers’ duel for Connecticut and allowed just two runs in 5⅔ innings. Neither starter walked a hitter.
Five batters, though, were hit by pitches, including a scary moment in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Rhode Island pinch-hitter Tom Harper was hit in the face. The crowd at Breen Field was mostly silent for more than four minutes as Harper was attended to on the field. He left the game and was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Marchetti’s game-winning home run, off Connecticut reliever Luke Sokolski, who took the loss, was originally disputed. The ball hit a light tower just beyond the fence, bounded back onto the field, and was ruled in play. Marchetti stopped at second base and held his hands above his head in a questioning gesture while Rhode Island manager Gary Bucci argued the call on the field. The umpires conferred and ultimately reversed the ruling, giving Rhode Island the run and the victory.
Connecticut never argued the reversal. “It was a home run,” Burrows said. “I think I heard it hit the pole. If they hadn’t [conferred], I probably would’ve said so.”
“This was just one of those games. We’re two very evenly-matched teams,” Burrows said. And he would seem to be right. The other game decided by fewer than five runs in this double-elimination tourney? Connecticut’s 3–2 win over Rhode Island in the first round on Monday.
Connecticut and Rhode Island, in fact, have a history at the New England Regional, having played each other in each of the last two championship games and with the last five champions coming from one of the two states.
Rhode Island will try to continue that streak. They play Vermont in the semi-final game Saturday at 11:00 am.
This was Waterford’s first time representing Connecticut at the New England Regional tournament. In fact, Waterford was the first team from southeastern CT to get this close to the Little League World Series since Old Lyme-Lyme in 2000.
“It’s a learning experience for these kids,” Burrows said after the loss. “They’re still learning how to play. They’re still learning how to fail. Baseball is a game of failure.”