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Waterford advances despite losing first game in Babe Ruth World Series

Ottumwa, Iowa — Sunday night turned into a mixed bag for Waterford in the Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series.

The New England representatives suffered their first loss in pool play, dropping a 9-1 decision to Mifflin County (Pa.) in an American Division game, but were assured a spot in the single-elimination phase of the tournament when unbeaten West Fargo (N.D.) eliminated Eau Claire (Wisc.) 10-0.

Waterford plays West Fargo in its final pool play game at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. West Fargo can clinch the American Division title and a first-round bye with a win. Waterford needs a win and a loss by Mifflin County to host Ottumwa on Monday night to earn a bye into the semifinals.

The first round will be played Tuesday, the semifinals Wednesday and the World Series champion will be crowned on Thursday.

"We just didn't get off to a very good start," Waterford manager Dave Laffey said. "The good news is that we're still moving on. We're still alive in this tournament."

Laffey wasn't kidding.

Mifflin County starter Colby Bodtorf struck out the side in the top of the first and the Middle Atlantic champions went right to work on Waterford starter Connor Podeszwa, scoring nine runs on seven hits in the first inning — the key hit a three-run homer by Ethan Eichhorn that gave Mifflin Country a 4-0 lead.

It was the first home run of the World Series, and there were still no outs.

Gage Schaeffer's RBI single made it 5-0 and Brian Yetter, whose RBI double produced the game's first run, lined a two-run single to right to extend the lead to 7-0. An error pushed Mifflin County's lead to 8-0 before Brycen Hassinger lined a two-out RBI single to right-center to drove in the final run of the inning.

The good news for Waterford? Even though Podeszwa struggled, lasting only two-thirds of an inning, relievers Ryan O'Connell and Mike Marelli were outstanding. They combined the shut out out Mifflin County on just three hits over the final 5.1 innings with four strikeouts and only two walks. Marelli didn't allow a hit in his three innings of work.

Unfortunately of Waterford, Bodtorf kept its potent bats quiet. He went the distance, allowing just four hits and an unearned run while walking one and striking out seven.

Bodtorf had a perfect game going into the fourth inning, but Ben Jerome broke it up with a leadoff single to center. Jared Burrows singled Jerome to third with two outs before Luke Sokolski golfed a single into left field to score Jerome.

Waterford's only other hit was a single by Sam Lanuza with two outs in the seventh.


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