By MICHAEL LETENDRE
THOROFARE, NJ – In what was billed as one of the most thrilling days of regional play at West Deptford ever, Edgewood Little League came out on top against Johnston, R.I.
The squads sparred off in a pair of one-run ball games to determine a World Series berth.
But in the end, Edgewood Little League won out in two classic games on Wednesday, Aug. 6.
Johnston won the opener, 1-0, saddling Edgewood with its first loss of the year – and tournament – before Bristol punched its Senior Little League World Series ticket came back to win the deciding game, 2-1 in another thrilling bout.
Edgewood advanced to the Senior League Baseball World Series in Bangor, Maine, which got underway on Sunday, Aug. 10.
Edgewood faced West University Little League from Houston, Texas, the champion of the Southwest Regional.
History was made as Edgewood became the first Connecticut team to win the regional since the tournament moved to West Deptford 24 years ago.
But it was a battle to just qualify for World Series play as Johnson threw everything but the kitchen sink at Edgewood to stave off elimination.
In the opener, Johnson’s Korey Fijal, Jake Coro, and Kevin Ciprian combined on a four-hit shutout as Bristol lost by a 1-0 push.
Ben Mazzone went 2-for-4 in the game while Zach Marquis and Joe Dorsio each tallied a hit in the losing effort for Edgewood.
Coro earned the win in relief of Fijal – re-entering the game in the seventh inning and recorded the save.
The only run of the game was scored in the third on an RBI ground out by Coro as the combination of Brad Burney and Marquis allowed just four total hits.
Edgewood certainly had plenty of chances to plate a run of two but left 11 runners on base, which included a bases loaded, no out situation in the fifth that Ciprian somehow worked out of.
But in the second game, Edgewood sealed the deal and got the job done with the 2-1 win.
In the game-changing third inning of play, Andrew Owsianko singled to right to get on base and Connor Crean was hit by-a-pitch to put two on.
Mazzone grounded out to advance the runners and with two in scoring position, Evan McGinley was the man of the hour.
McGinley singled to left with two outs in the third to drive in two runs and it proved to be the World Series qualifying hit.
Johnston pushed a run across in the sixth to make it a 2-1 game with a sacrifice fly by Fijal but it wasn’t until the seventh frame when the squad looked poised to take the contest away from Edgewood.
In the top of the seventh, Johnston loaded the bases and put pressure on the Bristol defense.
Matt Kennedy singled to begin the tilt and pinch-runner Joe Michael – replacing Kennedy – was sacrificed over to second.
Pitcher Dylan Skirp (6.1 IP, six hits, one run, 4 Ks) gave way to Jackson Hines in a big save situation.
Coro smashed out a base hit to get on and Hines walked Nick Raposo to load the bases.
However, the comeback bib would fall short.
Hines forced Ciprian into a short groundout for the second out of the stanza and Austin Conte ended things with a fly ball to center that was caught by Burney.
Off that catch, Edgewood was World Series bound.
It was just the third time over the last 15 years that the “if necessary” game was needed to determine the Senior Little League championship. 2014 Senior Little League: Eastern Regional, Final Results
Monday, Aug. 4
G16 – Johnston, RI 14 West Deptford, NJ-15 2* (NJ-15 eliminated)
G15 – Edgewood LL (Bristol), CT 15, Great Valley, PA 6
Tuesday, Aug. 5
G17 – Johnston, RI 7, Great Valley, PA 0* (PA eliminated)
Wednesday, Aug. 6
G18 – Edgewood LL (Bristol) 0, CT vs. Johnston, RI, 1
G19 – Johnson, RI 1, Edgewood LL (Bristol) 2
Edgewood is your 2014 Senior Little League Baseball Eastern Regional Champions