Westport LL routs N.H., clinches semifinal spot

BRISTOL -- With a two-out single in the first inning Monday off right-hander Harry Azadian, Rye, N.H., snapped Westport's string of 10 2/3 perfect innings on the mound.

That's about all that went wrong for Westport Little League in its latest triumph in the New England Regional.

Westport stormed out for six runs in the first inning and punched across five more in the third to crush Rye, N.H. 12-2 in five innings in pool play on Monday at Breen Field.

"It feels great," said first baseman Chris Drbal, who went 2-for-3 with one RBI. "I think it's great that it paid off."

Westport, which has won its three regional games by a combined 29-4, will look to go perfect in pool play when it faces Newton, Mass., on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Bristol. Massachusetts is 0-2 with losses to Maine 12-1 and Rhode Island 14-8.

The all-stars not only clinched a spot in Thursday's New England semifinals, but they all but assured themselves of the top seed in the process.

"That was goal No. 1, advance to Thursday. Goal No. 2 was to have all of our pitching intact," Westport manager Tim Rogers said. "The fact that we have advanced means we don't have to worry so much about Wednesday.

"We'll make sure we do our best ... but we're not going to jeopardize our pitching for Thursday."

Westport piled up the runs early against Rye, sending 11 batters to the plate in a six-run first inning against starter Raymond Hindle (2/3 inning, three hits) and reliever Dylan Chase.

"We hit a lot of balls hard," Rogers said. "More importantly than hits is how often we hit the ball square. ... We did a good job tonight."

After a leadoff single and a walk, Drbal plated Westport's first run on the fourth of six New Hampshire wild pitches in the inning. Westport tacked on a second run on Chad Knight's infield single -- one of five hits in the frame.

New Hampshire did its lone damage at the plate in the third, scoring twice off Azadian on singles by Max Malila and Chase.

But Westport responded almost immediately, plating five runs in the bottom of the inning on two hits and an error.

Rye tossed one wild pitch -- its seventh of the game -- and hit two batters in the inning to force home runs with the bases loaded.

Westport, in all, scored three runs on wild pitches.

"We work on it, I know we're all very agile and we're very smart on the basepaths," said Drbal, who scored two runs. "We're a really good team speed-wise."

Starting one day following an 8-0 win over Saco, Maine, in which Chad Knight and Max Popken combined to pitch a perfect game, Azadian was sharp early. The right-hander picked apart New Hampshire's lineup, striking out eight in three-plus innings.

"I was throwing pretty well," said Azadian, who also tossed four perfect innings in relief in Westport's 9-2 win over South Burlington, Vt., on Friday. "I left a couple pitches down the plate. ... They hit me around a little bit. I felt like I was throwing hard."



RYE 002 00 -- 0 4 1

WESTPORT605 01 -- 12 10 2

Batteries: W -- Harry Azadian, Charlie Roof (4) and Matt Stone. NH -- Raymond Hindle (L), Dylan Chase (1), Max Malila (3), Jonathan Swenson (4) and Dylan King.