NEWTOWN, CONN. – The Westfield Babe Ruth Baseball 13-Year-Old All-Stars battled all the way to the very end, falling just two runs short of a berth in the New England regionals championship.
Westfield rallied but fell just short in a 5-4 loss to Waterford (Conn.) Wednesday at High Meadow Field in Newtown, Conn.
Westfield entered the final inning, trailing 5-3. Cam Davignon led off the inning with a sharp line drive base hit to center field. Carter Cousins walked. Colton Baker, pinch running for Davignon, scored on Jimmy Hagan’s double to deep left center field to pull his team within one.
Waterford got Westfield to fly out and ground out with the tying and winning runs on second and third base.
“We fought to the end,” Westfield coach Jim Hagan said. “They left it all out on the field.”
Westfield’s team of All-Stars picked themselves up several times in Wednesday’s loser’s bracket final.
In the bottom of the second inning, Westfield bounced back from a 3-0 deficit. Mike Nihill led off with a single. Baley Collier reached on a force out. Jack Blake hit an RBI double, and Mike Lurgio followed with run-scoring base hit.
In the sixth, Spencer Cloutier doubled and scored when pinch-hitter Garrett Collis put the ball in play to continue Westfield’s comeback.
In the seventh, Waterford halted the rally.
“It was a tremendous late run for the boys,” Westfield manager Mike Nihill said. “We had the best chemistry a coaching staff could wish for or assemble. We hope this same exact group comes back for next year,” manager Nihill said.
Westfield’s pitching staff, which was taxed by an 11-inning game (a loss, its first) on Tuesday, performed admirably in its final game. Cam Parent (2 innings), Lurgio (2 innings), and Carter Cousins (3 innings) combined to hold Waterford’s offense to just five runs on no rest between games.
It was a welcome sight to see Cousins, who just two days earlier suffered a game-ending head/neck injury in a collision with the first baseman, once again, back on the mound.
The core defensive unit shined on Wednesday, according to the coaching staff, from Hagan’s half-dozen assists at second base to Collier’s grabs in center field, and Cloutier’s shortstop plays. Third baseman Cam Parent, of Southwick also delivered a solid effort defensively.
The 13-year-old team received tremendous support over the course of the five-day tournament from parents, family, and friends, as well as a surprise visit from members of the Whip City’s 14-year-old All-Stars (who are set for a big game themselves), and league president Dan Welch.
THURSDAY FINAL SET FOR WHIP CITY: Two years ago, the Westfield Babe Ruth Baseball 13-Year-Old All-Stars made history with an eastern regionals championship, and trip to the World Series.
The 2014 group of 13-year-olds nearly managed that feat too.
While those teams are now resigned to a summer vacation, a current crop of All-Star players is making its case as New England’s best.
The city’s 14-year-old All-Stars will host the winner of the loser’s bracket final in Thursday’s eastern regionals championship game at Bullens Field at 4 p.m. Because Westfield is unbeaten in tournament play, its opposition will need to win twice. If the Whip City All-Stars fall in the first game, a second – and final – contest will be played 20-30 minutes later.
Westfield has earned its way to the top with a 10-2 trouncing of Exeter (N.H.), a 7-4 victory over Windham (Maine), and a thrilling 2-1 win over Cranston (R.I.).