Little League Regional: Goffstown falls, faces must-win game FridayStaff report
August 09. 2017 9:12PM
Michael Iannazzo highlighted a five-run fourth inning barrage with a two-run single and Anthony Pollack added a three-run double in the sixth inning to lead Fairfield, Conn., to a come-from-behind 9-4 triumph over Goffstown in the winners’ bracket final of the 11-12-year-old 2017 New England Little League Regional Tournament on Wednesday in Bristol, Conn.
The loss means the New Hampshire state champions must win Friday in the semifinals against Thursday’s losers’ bracket survivor between Essex Junction, Vt., and South Portland, Maine, slated for 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Goffstown must win on Friday in a 1 p.m. start on ESPN to gain a one-game, winner-take-all championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. against Fairfield, also on ESPN.
The New Hampshire champs have done well this summer in elimination games.
They beat rival Bedford 6-5 for the District I title in the third and deciding game of the best-of-three series and won the last two games to eliminate Concord in the best-of-three state championship tournament.
“After the game I explained to the team that nothing really has changed for us,” said Goffstown manager Jeff O’Connell. “We needed two wins to win the regionals entering today’s game against Fairfield and we still need two wins. I told the team we need to win Friday and if we do, we don’t have to beat Fairfield twice on Saturday. My kids were still sad about losing to Fairfield, but they felt much better after hearing the scenerio ahead of us. We’re still two wins away from the regional title.”
O’Connell said more good news was the availability of his son, Aiden, coming back with his full complimentary of 85 pitches Saturday should Goffstown win Friday. “There’s no one we would want to pitch in the finals than Aiden. But we still have to focus on Friday and that’s our top priority, win Friday’s game and hopefully get to Aiden on Saturday.”
O’Connell said having the off day today is “extremely valuable. Our kids get to relax and use the swimming pool here at the complex all day if they want to.”
Goffstown appeared to be in control of Wednesday’s game after building a 3-0 lead after three innings with O’Connell on the mound. O’Connell contained Connecticut on three hits and three strikeouts with one walk.
He faced and got the first Fairfield batter in the fourth inning on a pop-up.
But with 56 pitches thrown to that point, manager O’Connell opted to remove his son and insert Ryan Cote, who wound up having control problems.
Cote finished the fifth inning, but not before allowing five runs on four hits with two walks and no strikeouts on 29 pitches.
“We’re up by three runs and I just felt Ryan could come in and hold them down, Our plan was to have Aiden throw about 50 pitches before bringing in Ryan” said O’Connell. Down by two runs, Goffstown got a run back in the home fifth when Tyler Mackey scored on a wild pitch.
But Pollack put the game out of reach with his three-run double in the sixth inning, part of a four-run blitz.
New Hampshire, which outhit Fairfield 10-9, fought to the end getting two singles in the sixth inning with two outs. But a force-out play at second base ended the game, leaving Goffstown now two wins shy of a World Series berth to South Williamsport, Pa.
“Our kids fought to the last out and that doesn’t surprise me,” said O’Connell. “Our kids have been resilient all season.”
Goffstown took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Brayden Hollinrake singled home O’Connell. The lead went to 3-0 in the third inning after Mackey lined a two-run hit to right.
O’Connell, Cote and Hollinrake each had two hits. Overall this summer, Goffstown has scored a total of 197 runs.
On Friday, O’Connell said Cote, Nate Innerfield, Logan Simmons and Cam Hujsak are available to pitch.