New Hampshire defeats Fairfield in New England opener

Richie Kerstetter throws a pitch for Fairfield American in the Connecticut champions New England Regional opener with Bedford (N.H.). — David G. Whitham photo

Richie Kerstetter throws a pitch for Fairfield American in the Connecticut champion’s New England Regional opener with Bedford (N.H.). — David G. Whitham photo

Bedford (N.H.) scored four runs in its first at bat and rode the lead to a 7-1 victory over Fairfield American Little League in the New England Regional at Leon Breen Field in Bristol on Sunday night.

“Scoring first is huge,” Bedford manager Todd O’Connell said. “We won the toss yesterday and chose visitor. The first three teams (coin toss) took home and won. We like being the visitor and setting the tone.”

Fairfield American manager Brian Grady said, “He played that (visitor) strategy perfectly. That kid (R.J. Juliano) was a good player. He was awesome.”

Bedford’s T.J. O’Connell opened the game with a double, and after a walk to Nick Asadorian, R.J. Juliano hit a three-run home run. After another free pass to Brett Niland, Evan Kaplo singled with one out. Niland scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.

“I was looking for a good pitch to hit and it was a fastball,” Juliano said. “My fastball was working and I was getting my two-seamer inside and jamming them.”

Fairfield, the Connecticut champions, will play the loser of Maine’s game with Rhode Island on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

New Hampshire meets Massachusetts Monday at 7 p.m.

Fairfield rallied in the fifth, after Juliano, Bedford’s starter, struck out the first two batters.

Matt Vivona singled sharply to left and Ben Gaffney beat out a roller up the third base line. Michael Iannazzo then drove a double up the gap in left center to get Fairfield on the scoreboard.

Juliano got the third out on a fly ball to right to strand runners on second and third.

Gaffney had a one-out single in the bottom of the third inning for Fairfield’s first hit.

O’Connell at shortstop made a great play going to his left on Matt Sawyer’s hard grounder into the hole to get the inning-ending force out at second.

Gaffney in the first and Michael Innaimo in the second each reached on errors, but advanced no further.

Juliano struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.

Fairfield starter Richie Kerstetter allowed only two base runners after the first inning.

One batter reached on a strikeout/wild pitch and the other on an infield error.

After striking out the first batter in the fifth, Kerstetter left with his pitch count at 65. He can next pitch after three calendar days of rest. All three hits and three walks he allowed came in the first inning. He struck out six.

“Richie held his composure together,” Brian Grady said. “He just came right back at them and started dealing. I know that’s what we’re going to get in the next outing from him.”

Todd O’Connell said, “Credit their pitcher. He shut us down hitting the inside corner. They are a really good team.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they go down in the loser’s bracket, win a few games, and maybe we see them again.”

Jach Gremse retired the two batters he faced in the fifth.

In the sixth, Bedford scored three times, with Maddox Muir (fielder’s choice), O’Connell (his second double) and Juliano (single) driving in runs.

Bedford’s Dylan Dufour came on in the sixth and set Fairfield down in order.

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