Locals hold off R.I. and will play Saturday for the right to go to Williamsport.
The Goffstown Little League All-Stars are going to the New England final.
But first, they’re going for ice cream.
The locals punched their ticket to Saturday’s title game (ESPN) in Bristol, Conn., by holding off Barrington, R.I., 2-1, on Thursday at the A. Barlett Giamatti Center. They’ll play the survivor of Friday’s game between Rhode Island and Madison, Conn.
The winner of Saturday’s game will go to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Right-hander Nate Kiah nailed it down for Goffstown by striking out the final Rhode Island batter with runners on first and second base in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“We’ll have about an hour practice (Friday) and I think we’ll take a team trip down the street to the ice cream shop,” said manager Pat Dutton after Thursday’s victory.
Goffstown starter Ryan Dutton, the coach’s son, pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on three hits. Kiah earned a muscular save, going the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing the one Rhode Island run.
Catcher Dillon Gaudet cracked a run-scoring single in the third inning and Noah Durham blasted a solo homer in the sixth, which turned out to be the difference in the game. Durham also had a key double to set up the team’s run in the third.
But the biggest single play may have been the one turned in by the manager.
In the bottom of the fourth, with Goffstown clinching to a one-run lead, Barrington attempted a double steal, with the runner on first taking off for second in hopes of drawing a throw and scoring the runner from third. As the batter struck out for the second out of the inning, Gaudet threw to shortstop Chase Phillibotte, who relayed it back to Gaudet as the runner sped home.
The initial call by the home plate umpire was safe — that the runner slid under the tag — but Pat Dutton used one of his two video challenges and the play was overturned for the third out of the inning.
“That was a pretty awesome feeling (to get the call overturned),” said manager Dutton.
Goffstown escaped several other jams, too. In the third inning, Barrington loaded the bases on a hit and two walks, but Dutton induced a flyout for the third out.
The last out is always the hardest to get, they say, and the sixth inning was no different for Goffstown. A double and a single started things against Kiah, but the pitcher got the next batter to bounce into a 6-3 double play, with shortstop Phillibotte doing the honors on a one-hopper. A run scored on the play, but the bases were wiped clean.
“That was a killer for the other team,’’ said manager Dutton. “That was big. That was very big.”
Kiah, a right-hander, walked the next two batters, prompting a mound visit from his manager.
“I just wanted to let him breathe, give him a moment,” said Dutton. “Just to let him know, ‘It’s OK. You got this. Let the defense take care of the rest.’”
But Kiah didn’t need his defense, catching the final batter looking at a third strike.
Dutton has five available pitchers for Saturday’s final — everyone except his son and Kiah.