WEST HAVEN — Jordan Higgins stuck out seven in a complete game four-hitter as North Haven’s Max Sinoway Little League defeated Milford 5-1 to capture the District IV championship on Sunday.
“(Higgins) usually does that. That’s his thing, especially in big games,” Max Sinoway head coach Angelo Romano said. “He’s a big-game pitcher who comes through when the game is on the line.”
Higgins was dominant from the very first pitch, as he worked a 1-2-3 first inning, striking out the first two batters he faced. After a scoreless bottom half, Higgins took the mound again, working around a leadoff single recording two more strikeouts and preserving the scoreless game.
In the bottom of the second, Joe Mastroianni led off with a single, Higgins walked and a bunt single by Ryan Semple loaded the bases. Brandon Stevens extended the stretch of baserunners to reach base with a single to drive in the first run of the game.
The merry-go-round continued as Chris Cretella walked to force the second run of the inning home, chasing the Milford starting pitcher from the game.
Charlie Becker was called upon to clean up the mess for Milford and was able to escape the bases-loaded jam with a big strikeout and back-to-back pop ups to keep the score 2-0.
Milford’s only run came in the third inning off the bat of Mike Merchant, who drove a fastball over the fence in left-center for an opposite field home run to cut the lead to 2-1. After allowing the homer, Higgins settled right back into his dominating performance, going three up, three down in the fourth.
Max Sinoway pushed the lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of a two-out error after a single by Kottage.
Milford threatened in the fifth inning with a man on second and one out and Merchant stepping to the plate. Merchant drove the ball to deep center field where it found the glove of a leaping Chris Kottage at the wall.
A play later, Kottage flashed the leather again, this time coming in on a shallow fly ball as he slid to make the catch and retire the side.
Max Sinoway put two more runs on the board in the home half on RBI singles by Bowry and John Slais to put the game out of reach 5-1.
Both Max Sinoway and Milford went 3-1 in the pool play of the district tournament, with Max Sinoway’s lone loss being handed to it by Milford in a close 7-5 contest.
“We were ready for them this time,” Romano said. “The last three out of four games we have really hit the ball. We scored 12 or more runs in those three games so we got hot.”
In the quarterfinal round, Max Sinoway took down West Haven 7-4 and went on to defeat North Branford easily 14-4 in the semifinals.
Max Sinoway will now go on to compete in the Section 1 Tournament in Trumbull beginning on July 19.
“Now you think about the Little League world series,” Romano said. “I mean it is far out there and we have to take it one step at a time, but we’re excited and Friday we start in Trumbull. I can’t wait.”