BRISTOL — With its tournament fate in doubt, Madison Little League used its full assortment of resources to keep playing for at least another day.
The all-stars from Connecticut broke things open in Tuesday’s elimination game against Walpole, Mass., thanks in large part to their bench. Alex Modica, Shailen Pathy and Morris Selmani all came through in pinch-hitting roles to key Madison’s 4-1 victory in the New England Regional at Breen Field.
It was a three-run fourth inning that made the difference for Madison, which advanced to face Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday at 4 p.m. in another win-or-go-home game.
“It didn’t surprise me when it happened. We’ve seen it before,” Madison coach James Maynard said. “We have massive confidence in every kid on this team.”
Four of the first five hitters in the fourth reached base, starting with a single by right fielder Nicholas Maynard. After another single by Modica, Pathy stepped up and laced a hit off Beckett Delleo. The hit seemed to load the bases, but Maynard was awarded home after colliding with a fielder on his way to third base.
Two batters later, Selmani ripped a double down the third-base line to make it 3-1. Madison added another insurance run later in the inning when shortstop Chase Geremia was walked with the bases loaded.
With a three-run lead in hand, Johnny Reh shut the door in relief for Madison. The right-hander overpowered Massachusetts, striking out eight of the nine batters he faced.
“I just wanted to keep going,” said Reh, who threw 41 pitches over three innings. “I wanted to keep doing what I was doing. I wanted to stay calm on the mound, just stay calm.”
Christian Kells — who tossed a five-hit shutout of Max Sinoway in the state championship — wiggled in and out of trouble early. The left-hander stranded a double to lead off the first then worked around a pair of two-out singles in the second.
A two-out double by third baseman Ryan Domineau tied it 1-1 in the third, but Kells escaped further trouble with a strikeout. Kells and Reh combined to strike out 11 and give up only six hits.
“Just dominant,” James Maynard said of his pitching staff. “That’s what got us here. We’ve played (16) games now, and we would not be here if it wasn’t for our pitchers.”
Kells got Madison’s offense started in the first, tripling with out one. He came around to score on a ground out by Geremia.
Connecticut is now 1-1 at the regional and 14-2 on the summer.