In a classic border war between Maine and New Hampshire, with a berth in the New England Little League regional finals on the line, it was the 11-and-12-year-olds from South Portland who came through in the clutch.
After falling behind 3-0 in the bottom of the first and 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth, the South Portland American Little League scored three fifth-inning runs and held off a final surge by Goffstown, New Hampshire, in the last of the sixth to escape with a 7-6 win at Bristol, Connecticut, Friday afternoon.
The South Portland contingent becomes only the fourth Maine team to advance to a Little League regional championship, and will play for a spot in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Saturday afternoon at 1:00 against Fairfield, Connecticut.
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
South Portland had a chance to break the game open early but couldn’t score despite loading the bases with one out.
Goffstown responded with a three-run uprising in the first, but South Portland came back with four fourth-inning runs.
The South Portland uprising was sparked by a three-run home run by Matthew Fogg. Nolan Hobbs’ double drove in the other run.
New Hampshire regained the lead with two runs in the last of the fourth, but South Portland’s next rally would put it ahead to stay.
Hobbs went five innings to earn the win on the mound, with Richie Gilboy pitching the sixth to pick up the save.
New Hampshire had the tying and winning runs on base but Gilboy was able to get Logan Simmons to pop out to foul ground near first base to end the game.
Johnny Poole drove in two runs with a double and a single for South Portland.