Nova's regional title dreams denied; Portland Babe Ruth entry ousted
What appeared to be shades of 2004 turned into agony Monday for the Nova Seafood American Legion baseball team in the regional tournament in Manchester, N.H.
Nova, consisting of players from juggernaut Deering High, was closing on a regional championship, having two chances for one victory which would have sent the team to the national tournament for the first time since it won the championship five years ago.
Instead, Nova's dream was denied by Berlin, Conn., which won the first game, 9-4, then eliminated Nova with an 8-5 decision, ending the juggernaut's season at 30-5.
Nova opened with a 9-5 win over Londonderry, N.H. Catching standout Matt Watson (the MVP of the state tournament) had four hits, including a home run. Taylor Candage and Matt Powers teamed up to get the job done on the hill.
Friday, Nova had a much easier time of it, crushing Warwick, R.I., 10-0 (in seven innings) behind Vanderbilt University-bound pitching star Regan Flaherty's four-hit outing. Powers had three hits and Jack Heary added a triple and a single.
Saturday, Nova guaranteed that it would play in the final by virtue of a 13-3 (seven inning) drubbing of Berlin, Conn. Luke Hammond was the pitching hero in that one, allowing just five hits. Candage, Heary and Sam Balzano all had three hits. Nova trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the third inning, but erupted for seven runs to seize control. Two-run uprisings in the sixth and seventh sealed the deal.
Sunday, against Newburyport, Mass., Nova did it again, this time 12-2 (in eight innings), behind the pitching of Jamie Ross and three hits from Flaherty.
While Nova's going home, the Deering Junior Legion team will begin play in the Northeast Region in Linden, N.J., on Friday.
The magical run of the Portland 14-year-old Babe Ruth team finally came to an end in the New England Regional tournament in West Warwick, R.I. Portland was ousted with losses to Rhode Island (4-1) and New Hampshire (13-1).
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org