BRISTOL — It’s been an impressive postseason so far for the Bradford, Vermont Little League team, which went 7-0 in its state tournament, tossing three shutouts along the way.
On Monday, the winning streak continued in the first round of the New England Regional tournament.
Ryan Walker had two hits and two RBIs to lead Vermont to a 6-3 win over Madison, Connecticut at Breen Field on Sunday. Vermont scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to clinch the victory, taking advantage of unforced errors including three runs scored on wild pitches.
Vermont will continue on in the winners bracket and will face Rhode Island on Monday at Breen Field at 7 p.m. Connecticut advanced to the losers bracket and will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“Vermont doesn’t usually win a lot of games, so winning against Connecticut is great for us,” Vermont manager Willy Kingsbury said. “We’re not a home run hitting team. But we have a little speed and we like to use that speed to take advantage of passed balls and wild pitches.
“This is our third regional in a row with this group (played in different age divisions). We didn’t want to just show up here. We have the Little League World Series on our minds.”
After a scoreless first inning, Vermont broke through with two runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Landon Kingsbury led off the inning for Vermont and got hit by a pitch. After a wild pitch allowed him to go to second, his cousin Brody Kingsbury walked with two on and no outs. Landon Kingsbury moved to third on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch allowed Landon Kingsbury to score for a 1-0 lead and Brody Kingsbury went to second.
Walker followed with an RBI single to left field to give Vermont a 2-0 lead.
“Winning this first game feels great,” Walker said. “I struck out in my first at bat and made an adjustment. It helped me get the two hits and two RBIs. It feels great to be able to contribute to our win.”
In the top of the third inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Connecticut’s Nicholas Maynard found a gap in left-center field for a double and drove in two runs to tie the game at 2.
Connecticut took its first lead in the top of the fifth inning. Chase Geremia led off with a deep shot to right field for stand-up triple. Two batters later, Maynard grounded out to first base and Geremia scored on the play to give Connecticut a 3-2 lead.
“The wild pitches and passed balls, it’s hard to win when you play like that,” Connecticut manager Jim Maynard said. “The way we played defensively tonight isn’t typically how we play. Our pitching got us here but today wasn’t our day.
“Vermont played close to error-free baseball, they played well.”
Vermont responded in the bottom of the fifth inning to re-take the lead for good. Vermont’s Will Eaton hit an RBI double to tie the game at 3. Braydon Larson followed by reaching first on a wild pitch on a third strike and Eaton moved to third. The catcher threw wide to first base to try and get Larson out, but the ball went into right field, allowing Eaton to score to make it 4-3 Vermont.
Vermont added another run on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Walker provided the 6-3 final.