WILLIMANTIC — Deadlocked 3-3 with Manchester on Monday night, the Southington Northern Little League’s 11U All-Star team erupted for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and went on to an 8-4 victory in a state final four elimination game.
Bryce Zielinski and Ethan Herens both rapped out two hits and drove in three runs. Ben Swift also had a two-hit night.
In the fifth, Swift scored the tiebreaking run on a passed ball. Two more runs followed on a bases-loaded error. A two-run single by Herens capped the rally.
Sawyer Johnston earned the pitching win working into the sixth inning. He struck out seven.
“We managed to get into their bullpen as their starter kept the game tight,” noted Southington North head coach Todd Pelletier. “Aggressive base running as we capitalized on miscues, balls put into play, walks and wild pitches.”
Southington North’s big fifth inning came right after Ben Borges took a pitch on the mouth.
“Big lip and a chipped tooth,” Pelletier reported. “He inspired us to win this one for him. I gave him the game ball as he remained on the bench to enjoy the finish. Again, how resilient is this group.”
With the win, Southington North earned a rematch with Fairfield American, the team that beat the locals in the opening game of the state finals, 7-3.
Fairfield American has yet to lose in the double-elimination tournament being hosted by Willimantic Little League. That means Southington North will have to beat the Section 1 champs on Tuesday night and again Wednesday to take the state title.