AUGUSTA — Offense hadn’t been a problem for the Somerset 13-15 Babe Ruth team. During their run through the state tournament, the Chargers had scored 33 runs in four games, and always seemed to come up with that hit, run or even big inning they needed.

In the state final, against an unbeaten foe in Greater Portland, those answers were nowhere to be found.

Somerset’s run came to an end Saturday with 8-0 and 5-1 losses to Greater Portland in the best-of-three championship round.

“We just had what I can only say is tournament fatigue. Six games in six days is really a lot for baseball,” Somerset coach Mark Ardito said. “I was proud of the kids, they bounced back from that 8-0 loss, and we were right in (the second) game until the very end.”

“We battled hard. They’re a good team over there,” shortstop Mitchell Grant said. “We put up a good fight, it just wasn’t enough.”

Greater Portland, which got six stellar innings from Bennett Smith in the first win and seven great frames from Anthony DiMillo in the second, advanced to the New England tournament, which starts Friday in Westfield, Massachusetts.

Greater Portland coach Jerome Gignac said the team had no interest in letting the tournament come down to a third game Sunday.

“We don’t want to come up here every day. We wanted to get it done and over as quick as possible, and move on,” he said. “We really came to play and did what we had to do.”

Greater Portland, which didn’t lose a game in the South division, moved a win away from the title with the 8-0 morning victory. Knowing there was no more margin for error, the Somerset players shook off the frustration and played a cleaner game that went into the sixth with Greater Portland ahead 2-1.

“We knew that our season was on the line, it was do-or-die at that point,” catcher Joe Ardito said. “We played all right, considering they had great pitching and they’re just a great team.”

In the sixth, however, the game slipped away again. Brady Coyne led off with a single, and DiMillo followed with a hit to right that, after throwing errors to first and then down to third, allowed Coyne to score. Ryan Thurber followed with a single, and Ben Wilson’s single to right-center field brought in DiMillo to make it 4-1. The lead was stretched to 5-1 in the seventh when Colby Winship doubled and scored on Coyne’s single.

It was plenty of cushion for DiMillo, who struck out three and allowed one walk and four hits in a complete-game effort. He left a pair of runners on in the first and fourth innings, and then retired the side in order the last three frames.

“I definitely tried to keep my composure in the last innings,” he said. “Towards the last inning I was getting kind of excited. … We’ve got a good infield, so (I got) ground balls and short pop-ups. And you have to be able to hit the corners.”

In the first game, four straight walks put Greater Portland up 1-0 in the first, and then a five-run third featuring an RBI single by Jimmy Gignac, RBI double by JT Fasulo and two-run single from Dom Tracey made it 6-0. Tracey added an RBI double in the fifth and Coyne singled and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

“We started really in a hole with a lot of walks, a lot of unearned runs,” coach Ardito said. “Really, too much to recover from.”

Somerset, meanwhile, was held in check by Smith, who struck out six and allowed two hits and three walks in the six innings before giving way to Coyne in the seventh.

“I’ve been in these situations before,” Smith said. “I wasn’t nervous or anything, and I found a groove in the third or fourth inning. … You have to go in there with a lot of confidence.”

Coach Ardito said running into a pair of pitchers who could throw off-speed pitches for strikes was a jolt for his team.

“The control and the speed change was something we’ve never seen before,” he said. “We were actually holding off on the fastball and waiting for the curve and the off-speed pitch.”

Greater Portland jumped in front in the third inning of the second game when Eban Daniels scored on a wild pitch and Winship scored on DiMillo’s sacrifice fly. Somerset inched closer in the bottom half when Brayden Mayo singled, advanced on a groundout and stolen base, and scored on a passed ball.

That was all the offense the Chargers would get, though coach Ardito said it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“We were hitting, but we could not find a seam in the outfield,” he said. “Every hit we had was right to them.”

Greater Portland’s sixth- and seventh-inning rallies doomed the comeback hopes, though coach Ardito said the group’s story didn’t end Saturday.

“We’re planning to continue on in the fall with this group of boys,” he said. “Maybe we can get in touch and play this team again.”


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