A solo home run from Brendan Sencaj in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the undefeated Frankin, Mass., American Legion baseball team to a 2-1 win over West Hartford on Wednesday in the opening round the 2023 Northeast Regional tournament at Fitton Field.
Connecticut state champion West Hartford (24-6) will face Nashua, N.H., in an elimination game on Thursday morning beginning at 9:30 a.m. Post 96 is making their first appearance in the tournament since 1973.
West Hartford pitchers Mason Hebert and Tristan Baron combined to give up just four hits and struck out eight.
Franklin (25-0) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly to center field from Sencaj. Luke Frauton reached base on an error and moved to third base on Chris Goode’s double. Frauton scored on the sacrifice fly ball.
Post 96 tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth inning.
Tristan Baron led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to second base on a fielder’s choice. Baron scored on James Berry’s double to center field. Brendan Grady followed with a single to put runners on the corners (first and third base) with one out. But Franklin starter Zachary Rasmaswamy got out the jam with a fly ball out and an infield out.
West Hartford threatened in the top of the eighth inning. Post 96 loaded the bases with one out thanks to a single from Grady and two walks to Declan. McCann and Chase Hanawalt.
Trevor Tanis tried to lay down a bunt but Franklin pitcher Eisig Chin threw home to Tyler Bellan for the force out at home and the second out of the inning. A ground ball out to first base ended the inning.
Franklin is the two-time defending Massachusetts state champion. Franklin beat Shrewsbury, Mass., in the state final, 6-5, by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the walk-off victory.
Franklin MA 2, West Hartford 1 (9)
At Worcester, Mass.
West Hartford (24-6) 000 010 000 — 1-8-1
Franklin MA (25-0) 000 100 001 — 2-4-1
Mason Hebert, Tristan Baron (5) and Tyler Redden; Zachary Rasmaswamy, Dillon Cashin (6), Ian Mosher (8), Eisig Chin (8) and Tyler Bellan; WP: Chin; LP: Baron; 2B: James Berry (WH), Chris Goode (F); HR: Brendan Sencaj (F)
At Worcester, Mass. (Fitton Field)
Wednesday, August 2
Game 1: Ellsworth ME 3, Nashua NH 1
Game 2: Essex VT 7, Greece NY 0
Game 3: Franklin, MA 2, West Hartford CT 1 (9)
Game 4: Cumberland RI vs. Shrewsbury MA (host), 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 3
Game 5: Nashua NH vs West Hartford CT, 9:30 a.m. (elimination game)
Game 6: Greece NY vs. loser game 4, 11:30 a.m. (elimination game)
Game 7: Ellsworth ME vs. Franklin MA, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Essex VT vs. winner game 4, 6:30 p.m.