Led by an outstanding performance from starting pitcher and leadoff hitter Jayden Murphy, Middleboro Little League defeated Maine’s Bangor East 10-1 on Thursday in Bristol, Conn., to capture the New England regional championship and advance to Little League World Series.
Middleboro will make its secondvisit to Williamsport, Pa., in team history (the team made it as part of the Eastern region in 1994). It is the first team from Massachusetts to play in the tournament since Peabody in 2009.
Murphy hit a home run and pitched four innings, allowing just one hit and one run while punching out nine Bangor East hitters.
The Middleboro offense got off on the right foot, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning off Cayden Ellis’s single and adding from there.
After a scoreless second, Middleboro catcher Jacob Landers laced a triple down the right-field line that cleared the bases, opening the lead up to 4-0. The Middleboro hitters remained patient, as Bangor East pitcher Jacoby Harvey pitched 3⅓ innings, surrendering eight walks while using his curveball to strike out seven hitters.
Ellis, the Middleboro center fielder, showed up again in the fourth inning when he dropped an RBI single in front of Bangor East’s left fielder.
Bangor East scored for the first time in the bottom of the fourth, as they rattled Murphy into walking in a run. Murphy was able to minimize the damage with a three-pitch punch-out to finish the inning with Middleboro leading 5-1.
Murphy gave his team some run support next inning when he mashed a 3-1 curveball over the left-field fence with a runner on base, adding two runs to the Middleboro lead entering the bottom of the fifth. Aaron Davis drove in two more in the sixth and then scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 10-1 over Bangor East.
In the final frame, Landers pitched in relief to finish off the Maine champions, who had gone undefeated in the tournament until Thursday.
This was the second time the two teams had met during the tournament after Bangor East beat the Massachusetts representatives 10-4 in a second-round matchup Monday. Middleboro bounced back Wednesday morning with an 11-0 drubbing of Concord, N.H., before matching back up with the Maine champions in the finals.
In Middleboro’s first game of the Little League World Series, they will match up with Southeast region representative Nolensville Little League out of Tennessee on Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. in Williamsport.