BRISTOL, Conn. — Alec Cronan hit two home runs and had six RBIs as Lincoln, R.I., defeated Bangor East 14-3 in an opening-day game at the New England Little League Baseball championships at Leon J. Breen Field on Friday afternoon.
Cronan hit a two-run homer in the top of the second inning to stake the Rhode Island champions to a 2-0 lead, then highlighted a six-run uprising in the top of the third with a grand slam to extend the margin to 8-0.
The Rhode Island champions also got solo home runs from Brian Jannetti and Jake Petrin and a three-run triple from Brandon Yee in overpowering Bangor East, which was playing in the New England regional for the first time in program history.
“Our kids never lost confidence,” said Bangor East manager Paul Huston, “but that team could hit the ball.”
The game was halted after five innings under the 10-run mercy rule. Bangor East, 0-1 in pool play, returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday against the Peabody Western Little League of Peabody, Mass., then faces Glastonbury, Conn., at 8 p.m. Sunday before having its bye day Monday.
The Maine champions then complete pool play with a game at 11 a.m. Tuesday against Brattleboro, Vt.
“The kids all know we need two wins to advance,” said Huston.
The Rhode Island champions, who came out of the loser’s bracket to win their seventh state title in the last 14 years last week, are idle Saturday before resuming pool play against Peabody, Mass., at 2 p.m. Sunday.
After Rhode Island used the long ball to build its early lead, Bangor East closed the gap to 8-3 with three runs in the bottom of the third, as Justin Courtney singled home James Deane and Liam Harrigan followed with a two-run double to plate Marcus McCue and Andrew Hillier.
But Rhode Island starter Jeff Sheehan escaped further damage by stranding Bangor East runners on second and third, and the Rhode Island team then scored four runs in the fourth inning and two more in the top of the fifth to put the game away.
Harrigan was the hitting star for Bangor East with two doubles, a single and two RBIs. McCue added a double for the Maine District 3 champions, while Courtney and Sam Huston each singled.
The Rhode Island team outhit Bangor East 8-6.
Courtney, the first of four Bangor East pitchers, worked the first 3 1/3 innings, followed by relievers Alex Welch, Hillier and Nicholas Moore.
Sheehan worked into the fourth inning to earn the pitching win for Rhode Island.
Lincoln, R.I. (1-0) 026 42 — 14 8 0
Bangor East (0-1) 003 00 — 3 6 1
Sheehan, Leclaire (4), Fournier (5) and Petrin; Courtney, Welch (4), Hillier (4), N. Moore (5) and Brookings