Playing for their Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series lives Wednesday, New Milford, Conn., and Mountain Home, Ark., battled for the final spot in Friday's United States semifinals. New Milford put together a 14-hit attack that produced 14 runs, en route to an 14-5 win in American Division pool play.
New Milford's win puts the team into Friday's United States semifinals, where they will meet unbeaten Piedmont, Del., the top seed from the National Division.
In Wednesday's must win, New Milford (3-1) got off to another good start, but Mountain Home just wouldn't go away.
New Milford leadoff batter Kendall Greene put New Milford on top with a solo home run to center field.
Mountain Home evened the game with a run in the top of the second, but each time the Arkansas team scored, New Milford had an answer.
"We have a little joke when we come in from every inning," New Milford Manager Paul Gesualdi said. "If a team scores on us, we always tell the kids, all right, you owe me that one plus, and we throw out a number, get me two more and that just seemed to be what was working today."
In the bottom of the second, Nick Dicandido and Tyler Bowe drew back-to-back, one-out walks.
Hunter Skelly then pushed a bunt up the first baseline where Mountain Home first baseman Sam Arp and pitcher Luke Kruse couldn't agree on who was to field it. Skelly took advantage and hustled out a base hit to load the bases and with two outs, Greene added two more RBIs with a sharp single to right.
Mountain Home added another single run in the third, but so did New Milford on a pair of back-to-back two-out doubles from Chris Gesualdi and Dicandido.
Hanging tight, Mountain Home pushed across its third run in the fourth to make to 4-3, but New Milford took off from there.
In the bottom of the fourth, 10 New Milford batters came to the plate. Pinch hitter Joey Shine ignited the rally with a leadoff single. Shine stole second and scored on Tim Cianciolo's single.
Greene then reached base on a hit by pitch and Austin Swanson singled in Cianciolo. Max Cotier then hit a hard ground ball off pitcher Luke Jackson's throwing hand to load the bases.
Kurtis Krizan politely unloaded them with a long grand slam home run over the left field wall, capping the six-run inning for a 10-3 lead.
Mountain Home showed no quit, adding its final two runs in the fifth on consecutive home runs from Jackson and Luke Kruse.
New Milford responded again, scoring its final four runs, including two on a suicide squeeze. Green scored easily from third and Swanson scored all the way from second.
Bowe pitched the first three innings to earn the win. He allowed two runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out one.
Cianciolo pitched the final three innings, yielding three runs on six hits. He hit a batter and struck out a batter.
New Milford survives Tuesday scare
New Milford let an 9-0 lead slip away Tuesday, only to regroup and win 10-9 in the bottom of the sixth inning over Meridian, Idaho, at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
At Nationals Park, meanwhile, Mountain Home kept itself in contention by upsetting Elk Grove, Calif., 6-5., in seven innings.