Strong Defense by Canton-MA against Maine in Little League World Series New England Region Championship, But ME Prevails 2-1


Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball. Canton Little League's Michael Zollo, from Massachusetts, safely slides into home under a leaping catcher from Gray, Maine.

Canton Little League, representing Massachusetts, came up short against Gray New Gloucester Little League of Gray, Maine, in a fast-moving, low-scoring game of dueling pitchers in the Little League World Series New England Region Championship that was broadcast live by ESPN from Bristol, Connecticut on Thursday evening, August 10. Maine prevailed over Canton, 2-1.

Nathan Chabot pitched a solid game for Canton, which was designated as the away team. Over the five innings he pitched, he struck out eight batters and allowed only five hits.

Maine pitcher Kayden Oliver struck out ten, including one batter in the sixth inning, before Caleb Baker stepped in as relief pitcher.

Courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball. Canton pitcher Nathan Chabot struck out eight batters and allowed only five hits from Maine.

Maine made the most of the few hits it could get off of Canton. Despite Canton ringing up three strikeouts in the first inning, a well-placed hit by Maine brought home a baserunner, giving Maine an early lead in the first.

In the second inning, the only hit that Canton allowed became a home run due to fielding errors. A missed opportunity by Canton to catch a fly ball, possibly due to the glare of stadium lights, was immediately followed by an off target throw that flew by third base. Maine used the opportunity to transform a triple into a home run. That would be the last time Maine scored, but it was enough. Maine’s strong, defensive play eventually won the game.

Canton battled back and kept it close. In the third inning, Canton’s Declan Kelliher hit a grounder up the middle that brought teammate Michael Zollo home. While that would be Canton’s only run, Canton’s defense stiffened and prevented its competitor from scoring further.

Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball. A Canton batter is about to connect with a pitch.

In the fourth inning, Canton’s Cam Lyons hit a grounder and was safe at first base. But Maine successfully fielded a fly ball to center field for the first out and Kayden Oliver pitched two strikeouts.

In the fifth inning, Maine’s Caleb Barker led off with a double, but his stumbling after rounding first base might have cost him a triple. Once again, Canton’s defense and Chabot’s pitching shut down the Maine team.

In Canton’s last chance at bat, Brendan Ryan hit a fly ball that took a hop, giving him enough time to become Canton’s potential tying run on first base. Pitcher Kayden Oliver struck out the next Canton batter, before relief pitcher Caleb Barker took over. Canton’s Michael Zollo singled with a well-placed hit to center field that advanced his teammate to second base. With Ryan Roberts at bat, a pitch got away from Maine's catcher. Canton took the opportunity to advance the potential tying and g0-ahead runs to third and second bases. But Maine’s strong defense ended Canton’s rally.

Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball. Canton player Brendan Ryan prepares to run after hitting the pitch by Maine's Kayden Oliver.

The game was a hard fought defensive battle featuring strong pitching on both sides. The two teams were not strangers to each other, as just days earlier, on August 7th, Canton had met Maine in the tournament game that ended Canton's 15-game winning streak. Maine won that contest decisively, 7-1.

Maine will represent New England next week against other regional champions in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Thanks to Little League Baseball and Softball for sharing game photos with Westwood Minute.

Updated 8/12/2023 at 11:13 p.m. The caption accompanying the last photo in this article misidentified a Canton player as Andrew Sullivan. That caption has been corrected to identify the Canton player as Brendan Ryan. Westwood Minute apologizes for the error.

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