WATERVILLE — For a moment in time, it looked like the tide may have turned for the Waterville 11U Cal Ripken baseball team.

With its back against the wall, down against Brunswick in the semifinal round of the New England tournament, Waterville managed to pull some defensive wizardry out of its hat, along with one huge home run from Alex Spaulding.

The ending result of the game favored Brunswick, who beat Waterville 12-1 in six innings and will meet Plymouth, Massachusetts at 5 tonight at Purnell Wrigley Field in the championship game.

However, for a moment, momentum swung in favor of Waterville.

Down 9-0 in the top of the fourth inning with one out, and with runners at second and third, Waterville pitcher Spencer Brown tossed a pitch to Brunswick’s Jake Scrapnansky, who promptly hit a comebacker to Brown on the mound. Brown deftly snatched the ball out of the air, immediately turned toward third and picked off base runner Miles Logan — who had a big lead — to pull off a double play and end the inning.

It was a play Brown had been anticipating.

“My first thought was, ‘If I catch this, I’m throwing right over to third,” Brown said. “Because he’s taking a big lead and I’ve seen it every time. My instinct was to throw it over to third.”

The play fired the Waterville squad up, but the momentum shift wouldn’t end there. Moments later Spaulding — the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning — pounded a Neil Perkinson fastball over the left center field wall for a solo home run. The bash riled his teammates, who sprinted out of the dugout to home plate to greet Spaulding on the blast.

“I wanted to put a bat on the ball,” Spaulding said. “I just wanted to get on base. I knew I had the power, but I didn’t think it was going to go that far.”

Not only was the shot the first home run of the game, it was Spaulding’s first home run ever. And it was a long time coming.

“I’ve been robbed plenty of times,” Spaulding said. “I’ve come short about 20 million times. I’ve hit the fence. I didn’t think it was going to be (a home run) this one time, but I was just really happy.”

Brunswick answered back two innings later with three runs of its own to end the game via the mercy rule. But it did little to deter the attitude of the Waterville players or coaches. Not expected to go far in the tournament, Waterville instead played the role of scrappy underdog and stole the show.

“We surprised a lot of people,” Spaulding said. “They thought because we were the host team, we were just going to go 0-3 and just lose the first game (of the elimination round). But we proved a lot of people (wrong).”

“They never give up,” Waterville head coach Larry Brown said. “We’ve had more than one person tell us they love how we grind. Every game, we grind and grind. Brunswick had our number tonight. Other than that, I can’t be any prouder of these 12 kids.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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