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Newtown - Waterford lived on the brink of elimination since losing its opener in the New England Babe Ruth 13-year-old tournament on Saturday.
It was a nerve-racking and scary place to be.
Yet, somehow, a resilient Waterford fought and scratched its way out of the losers' bracket and into Thursday's championship round.
Waterford completed its improbable championship journey, sweeping two games from Portland, Maine, on Thursday to capture the New England title and move on to the World Series in Glenn Allen, Va. Waterford will play Pacific Southwest champion Chandler-Mesa of Arizona beginning at 10 a.m. Aug. 16.
Dylan Bosco struck out the final batter in the deciding game with the tying run on third base, giving Waterford a thrilling 6-5 victory and setting off a celebration fitting of a champion.
"We just have heart," Bosco said. "Our team never gives up. We gave it our all. I still can't believe it."
Only a wild dreamer would dare to believe that Waterford would even play for a berth in the World Series after the team needed a wild card just to get into the state tournament after losing the district final.
Waterford then dropped its New England opener 7-3 Saturday to Westfield, Mass., needing a seemingly impossible six straight victories to win the championship.
"It's unbelievable," Waterford coach Dan Santos said. "These kids battled hard. They showed up every day to play. … The kids just love the grind and love the pressure. They thrive under pressure."
Waterford relieved some of that pressure by beating Portland 8-6 in the first game of the championship round. Eight different players contributed to a 13-hit attack, with Max Adams leading the way with three hits and two RBI.
With the score even at 6 in the sixth, Drew Rocchetti tripled and scored the go-ahead run on Trevor Yeomans' single. Adams followed with another clutch two-out, run-scoring hit. Reliever Noah Speller pitched the last 3 1/3 innings to earn the win.
Momentum was on Waterford's side.
"Once we won it, I had a better feeling in my stomach," Santos said. "Dylan went out there and pitched a great game."
Waterford went without a hit in the first three innings of the deciding game before scoring four runs in the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. Bosco, who had two of his team's six hits, doubled to spark the rally and scored on an error. Two walks later, Bobby Silva drove in the second run with an RBI groundout and Adams delivered a two-run single.
Portland chipped away at the 4-1 deficit, scoring two runs in the fifth. Waterford capitalized on two walks, a wild pitch and an error to score two runs in the seventh for a 6-3 lead. Bosco and Rocchetti both singled and scored.
Getting the final three outs proved to be difficult, as Portland loaded the bases with nobody out. A passed ball and groundout each brought in a run, cutting the gap to 6-5.
"We never make it easy on ourselves," Santos said.
But Bosco settled down after receiving some calming words from Speller, his catcher.
"He said, 'we will get through this.' At that moment, I knew we'd get through this," Bosco said. "I just knew I had to throw strikes and I was going to get it over, no matter what."
Bosco fanned Keller Nicholai with the tying run on third for the final out.
"We shocked the world, that's all I can say," Bosco said.
"This is what Waterford does," Santos said. "The high school does it and Babe Ruth does it."