BRISTOL — The Madison Little league baseball All-Stars clicked in every phase of the game this season and that talent led the team to the state title, representing Connecticut in the Little League Baseball New England Regional tournament this week.
Madison advanced to the losers bracket semifinal on Friday against Rhode Island. The Connecticut team had its opportunities. But the usual timely hitting wasn’t there and a big reason was Rhode Island starting pitcher Alex Anderson.
Anderson pitched a complete game shutout, threw 81 pitches, allowed six hits and struck out four to lead Rhode Island to a 4-0 win over Connecticut at Breen Field. The Rhode Island bats came through in the fifth inning with Owen Pfeffer and Lucas Tanous each belting two-run singles down the right field line to provide all the scoring in the game.
“Alex did a great job to shut down Madison, a well-coached team,” Rhode Island manager Chris Promades said. “We had chances to score early in the game and we didn’t score. But I knew we had Alex on the mound and he was pitching his butt off. He was lights out with a strong curve ball.
“We had our backs to the wall. It was tough leaving a lot of guys in scoring position before that fifth inning. But I knew our bats would come alive. It feels great to get to the final.”
Rhode Island advances to the final and will face New Hampshire Saturday at 1 p.m. at Breen Field. It’s a rematch of the winner’s bracket semifinal when New Hampshire beat Rhode Island 2-1, sending Rhode Island to the losers bracket.
After the game, Madison manager James Maynard said he couldn’t have been more proud of his team.
“Today, the story of the game was we couldn’t get that timely hit,” Maynard said. “It was a lack of hitting, especially the clutch hit. We couldn’t come through with that one big inning and they did. We’ve seen pitchers this season as good as the Rhode Island pitcher. But he kept us off balance.
“What I am most proud of is how our guys stayed together and they all played their roles and contributed. The kids felt bad after the game. But I told them in 10 or 20 years they will remember this experience as a fun week. It was a fun week for all of us to be here.”
In the first inning, both teams loaded the bases but couldn’t score
With two outs, Madison’s Chase Geremia walked, Paul Calandrelli hit a single to left field and Nicholas Maynard was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But Anderson struck out William Patla to end the threat.
“Today I was hitting my spots,” Anderson said. “I was letting them get the ball in play because I have a great defense behind me. Our defense is one of our strengths, they always play great.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Pfeffer hit a double and Mason Crain and Christopher Promades walked to load the bases with two outs. Madison pitcher Christian Kells struck out Lucas Tanous to end the Rhode Island threat.
In the third inning, Madison had another chance to score. With one out and Madison’s Johny Reh on third and Kells on first base, Calandrelli hit a hard ground ball to Anderson on the mound. Reh broke for home but Anderson bolted toward Reh and tagged him out between third and home. Nicholas Maynard popped up to first base to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, Rhode Island had another chance to score with the bases loaded again. Matthew Fede singled to right field to load the bases with two outs. But relief pitcher Reh struck out James Caldarella to end the inning.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Rhode Island’s offense came through with its four runs to take control of the game. Tanous’s two-run single gave Rhode Island a 2-0 lead and Pfeffer belted his two-run single to make it 4-0.
“The score was tied 0-0, so on that first pitch in that at bat I was a little nervous and fouled off the first pitch,” Tanous said. “But on the next pitch I got a solid piece of the ball and drove it to right field. It was a great feeling to drive in those first two runs of the game.”