Tough loss for Middleboro in first World Series game
WILLIAMSPORT, PA — Despite nine combined strikeouts from pitchers Jayden Murphy, Joe Monteforte, and Jacob Landers, Middleboro lost its opening game of the 2022 Little League World Series 5-3 to Nolensville, Tenn. in a match-up that was delayed for more than two hours due to rain and lightning.
The team’s World Series hopes remain alive, although the odds are more challenging because they cannot lose a second game. They next play Saturday, when they will face the loser of Thursday’s game between the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest teams. There is a spot for an elimination bracket team in the United States championship game, which leads to the overall World Series final match-up.
The game marked Middleboro’s first World Series appearance since 2009. The squad registered wins in the district, sectional, and regional championships to make it to Williamsport, Pa., where they represented New England.
In the top of the first inning, Middleboro starting pitcher Jayden Murphy pitched out of a jam consisting of Nolensville runners on second and third base.
Murphy also batted leadoff, and he faced a Nolensville shift that put three infielders to the left of second base during the first Middleboro at-bat of the game. Nolensville did not use the shift again.
Nolensville opened the scoring with an RBI single in the top of the second inning, and they expanded their lead in the third. A long fly ball to left field hit the ground and let two Tennessee players score.
Middleboro’s offense ignited in the bottom of the third inning. Third baseman Luke Bolduc singled up the middle to reach base, and he took second on a wild pitch. Murphy singled and Bolduc reached third base. Then, second baseman Mike Marzelli reached base on an infield single that drove Bolduc home, and Murphy scored on the play after a series of Nolensville errors. That cut the Tennessee lead to 5-2.
In the fourth inning, Nathan Mello walked and then got to third base after a single by Shawn Miller. Bolduc drove Mello in for a run with a single, which put the score at 5-3 after four innings.
Middleboro recorded three outs on three batters in the top of the fifth inning after the two-hour rain and lightning delay. Joe Monteforte struck out two batters in the inning.
Jacob Landers pitched the sixth inning and did not allow a run despite a Nolensville single and double to begin the inning. Gavin Gillpatrick ran down a pop up from shortstop to the third baseline in shallow left field, and Landers struck out another batter. He walked a Tennessee player to load the bases, and then another Tennessee player lined out to end the inning.
Middleboro could not muster any offense in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, and the game ended 5-3, Nolensville.
Making it to the World Series represents a major achievement. They join former Red Sox players Jason Bay, Kevin Cash, Carney Lansford, Jim Pankovitz, Jason Varitek, and Rick Wise as Little League World Series veterans.