FARMINGTON — The 1 hour, 45 minute rain delay before the start of Tuesday’s New England Babe Ruth tournament game between Manchester, N.H. and Braintree, Mass., did nothing but prolong Braintree’s incredible run out of the loser’s bracket and into the championship round.

Braintree lost to Essex, Vt., on the opening day of the tournament, but hasn’t dropped a game since. Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Manchester was Braintree’s fourth win in a row. Braintree will play Trumbull, Conn., at 2 p.m. today at Hippach Field. If Braintree wins, the teams will play a second game immediately following the first.

“We’ve always played better when we’re down,” Braintree pitcher Matt Bickford said.

Braintree took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Bickford singled, went to second base on a balk and scored on a base hit by Steve Lee. In the third inning, Joe Harrington singled and went to second on an error, then scored on another error for a 2-0 lead.

That was all Bickford needed as he scattered five hits, struck out four and allowed one run on a double steal in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Bickford felt his best pitch was his fastball.

“I didn’t want to let them get anything,” Bickford said. “I wasn’t going to let the lead slip away.”

In the fourth inning, Manchester turned to staff ace Carmen Giampetruzzi, who struck out eight in four innings to keep Braintree’s lead at two runs.

Manchester stranded runners at third base in the first, sixth and seventh innings. With the tying run at third with two out in the bottom of the seventh, Peter Abood hit a ground ball to shortstop for the final out.

The game was marred by an altercation between both teams at home plate after the final out. Farmington police were called and asked to escort Manchester from Hippach Field.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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