TRUMBULL, Conn. — It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride for the Augusta 15-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team this weekend.

But the state champions are moving on at the New England Regionals, which is all that really matters for the club.

One day after delivering the game-winning hit in the 14th inning, Noah Bonsant pitched a complete-game three-hitter as Augusta survived another thriller with a 2-1 victory over Cranston, R.I., Sunday morning at Trumbull High School.

“This feels awesome,” Bonsant said. “This team has been playing together since Little League. We’re really happy to be here right now.”

With the victory, Augusta emerged out of pool play and advanced to the single elimination semifinals. Augusta will play host Trumbull or New Milford, Conn., on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

The winner will play Tuesday for the championship and a trip to the World Series in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., beginning Aug. 13. .

Bonsant gave up a run in the bottom of the first on two singles and a wild pitch then shut down the Rhode Island state champions the rest of the way. Augusta tied it in the fourth on an RBI single by third baseman Jake Hendsbee then pushed across the eventual game-winning run in the fifth on a two-out single by shortstop Dylan Presby.

Augusta, which finished 2-1 in pool play, held on in the bottom of the seventh, sealing the victory on an alert tag play at third by Hendsbee and a spectacular leaping catch at short by Presby.

Augusta opened the tournament on the short end of a 9-0 three-hit shutout against Pittsfield, the Western Massachusetts state champion, before battling through 14 heart-wrenching innings after losing a 6-1 lead in the seventh to get past Vermont on Saturday.

“It’s been so up and down for us,” Augusta manager Mike Bechard said. “I’m just so happy for the boys. They really deserve this.”

Bonsant, who missed all but one game at the district tournament after dislocating his knee, was lights out, striking out five and walking none. Using a nice off-speed pitch to keep Cranston (1-2) off balance, Bonsant retired 14 straight at one point.

“I felt good today,” said Bonsant, who went 2-0 at the states without allowing an earned run. “I was throwing my curveball the best I have all season. Usually I can’t get it over the plate, but it was working today.”

Bonsant has been one of Augusta’s rocks during the tournament, catching the first game against Pittsfield, then going 4-for-6 with the game-winning single against Vermont. He went 1-for-3 against Cranston.

“He’s been awesome,” Bechard said. “He’s been my go-to guy. Every time I put him on the mound, he shuts things down. He’s been great.”

The win didn’t come without its share of drama in the bottom of the seventh. Cranston’s Jake Palazzo reached first with one out after getting hit on a 1-1 pitch. Palazzo stole second and he took off for third when the throw from catcher Cody Taylor went into center field. Palazzo made it in safely with a half-slide, but his foot came off the bag as he popped up and tried to gain his balance.

An alert Hendsbee kept the tag on through the play and tagged Palazzo out.

“I thought he was going to go around the base so I just kept the glove on him,” Hendsbee said. “I knew something like that was going to happen.”

“That was just a smart play by Jake,” Bechard added. “You can’t teach that. He’s just a strong player.”

Steve Racchio, Cranston’s No. 3 batter, lined a shot that looked like it was headed for left field. But Presby (1-for-3) climbed the ladder to bring it down to end the game in dramatic fashion.

“I couldn’t believe Dylan caught that ball,” Bonsant said. “I was pretty relieved when he did.”

Taylor (1-for-3) scored Augusta’s first run in the fourth after a walk, stolen base and Hendsbee’s single to left. Cole Lockhart, whose relief pitching helped keep Augusta in the 14-inning marathon, singled to lead off the fifth. He was replaced by pinch-runner Jack Wroten, who went to third on a single by Marc Cloutier and an infield error and scored on a single to right by Presby.


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