BRISTOL, Conn. — A six-run rally by defending New England champion Fairfield, Conn. in the home half of the second inning put Cumberland in a hole the team could not climb out of on Saturday, as the Major Division (ages 11 and 12) all-star team absorbed a tough 7-6 loss in their New England pool play game at Breen Field on the Bart Giamatti Complex.
Down by five runs entering the top of the sixth inning, Cumberland (9-1) bravely battled back for four runs and had runners on second and third with two gone, but were unable to plate the equalizer.
Cumberland, which posted a 6-4 extra-inning victory over Scarborough, Maine in its tournament opener on Friday afternoon, will try to get back on track tonight at 8 p.m. when the locals take on the Jesse Burkett Little League of Worcester, Mass.
After a day off tomorrow, Cumberland will conclude pool play on Tuesday with a 2 p.m. contest against Swanton, Vt., and if the locals end up with one of the top four New England pool play records, they will play in Wednesday’s Eastern Regional quarterfinals against one of the Mid-Atlantic’s top seeds.
Both teams quickly got on the board and scored a run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. Cumberland scored when Julianne Ross led off the game by getting plunked by a pitch, and after she stole second and third base (two of five stolen bases in the game by Cumberland), she raced home on a two-out wild pitch. Fairfield then tied the score with the help of three walks and a wild pitch.
After Cumberland was unable to take advantage of a leadoff double by Maddison Leite in the top of the second, the defending champions took the lead in the home half of the frame, thanks to four walks and three hits, one of them a two out, two-run single to left field by Zoe Holderied.
Cumberland didn’t score again until the fifth, when with two outs, Sam Jalbert beat out an infield single and scored on a triple to left by Ross.
And in the dramatic sixth, Cumberland went to work. After a fielder’s choice grounder and an error put runners at the corners with one gone, Sydney Provencal scored on a daring steal of home.
Kailey Brodeur then laced a sharp single to right to drive in one run, and with two outs, Emily Anderson kept the rally alive with a base hit, and another infield miscue brought in two more runs.
But Fairfield ace pitcher Brittany Romero, who tossed a seven-hitter, ended the rally and the game by recording her eighth strikeout of the contest.
While Romero also walked just one batter and threw one wild pitch, Cumberland’s pitching struggled with its control, issuing eight walks and three wild pitches. Slightly more than half (65) of Cumberland’s 129 pitches in the game were strikes.
Friday's victory over Scarborough, Maine saw Cumberland break a 4-all tie with two runs in the top of the seventh behind a throwing error that paved the way for both runs in the frame.
Provencal in turned a strong performance on the mound for Cumberland, the youngster tossing a complete game that saw her walk no one while striking out three. She allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on eight hits while tossing 83 pitches, 60 of which were strikes.
The R.I. champs enjoyed leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Scarborough slowly chipped away, scoring twice in the second and solo runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Six of Cumberland’s seven hits came from three players, as Ross, Emily D’Abrosca and Brianna Frankina had two hits apiece.
Cumberland’s Minor Division (ages 9 and 10) all-star team seized its third straight state championship on Friday night by beating East Providence, 18-8, in the title game at the Warwick West Side complex.
The victory improved Cumberland’s tournament record to 9-0, with all nine of its victories coming by way of the mercy rule.
Cumberland will now play in the Eastern Regional tournament that is slated to begin on Saturday, July 28, in Fleetsville, Penn.
Cumberland, which went 6-0 en route to winning the R.I. District IV title, opened the state tournament by again beating East Providence, 18-8, and following that up with a 14-4 win over Warwick West Side.