WORCESTER, Mass. - The Southington American Legion baseball team battled through a tight game to open up its Northeast Regional play on Wednesday, but ultimately came up just short and are now on the brink of elimination.
Facing Battleboro, Vermont, Southington jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first before falling 4-3, sending the team to the elimination bracket, where it will play the loser of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and Hampden, Maine on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
Sean Crean got Southington off to a strong start with a leadoff single in the top of the first, and stole second before Kyle Leifert was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Battleboro looked to have a crucial out before pitcher Adam Newton committed a costly error that allowed both Crean and Leifert to score, giving Southington a 2-0 lead.
Battleboro answered back in the bottom of the second, when Jack Pattison led off the inning with a single off Southington starter Jason Krar. After securing a big strikeout, Krar surrendered an RBI double to Christian Thomeson, allowing Pattison to score Battleboro’s first run. Thomeson later scored on a two-out, game-tying single by Christopher Frost, erasing Southington’s early lead.
Battleboro seized the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Thomeson came through with a leadoff double and later scored on an error on the mound by Krar when Jack Price dropped down a sacrifice bunt attempt. Price scored later in the inning on a groundout, putting Southington in a two-run hole.
Southington chipped away in the top of the fifth thanks to a double by Crean, a single by Leifert and a sacrifice fly by Panarella.
Nick Borkowski came on in relief of Krar and pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings, but the Southington bats couldn’t get over the hump against Newton, who allowed just one earned run through six innings while racking up seven strikeouts.