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Connecticut’s six-run inning spells ‘trouble’ for Lynn

Julia Nickolau scored one of Lynn's two runs in Tuesday's game. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

WORCESTER– The Lynn Senior Little League Softball All-Stars put together six strong innings in Tuesday morning’s East Regional game against Connecticut at Ty Cobb Field. Unfortunately for the Lynners, they needed seven strong innings in order to earn the victory.

Connecticut took advantage of a few Lynn miscues in the top of the sixth inning to plate all six of its runs, en route to a 6-2 win to close the pool play portion of the tournament. Connecticut finished the pool at 3-1 and grabbed the No. 2 seed. Lynn finished at 1-3 and took the No. 3 seed heading into the next round. Jesse Burkett (4-0) is the No. 1 seed and Rhode Island (0-4) is the No. 4 seed.

“We basically played six perfect innings,” Lynn manager Chad Wilkins said. “Unfortunately, the game is seven. We didn’t make any errors in any other inning. Good pitching, good defense. It was just one inning that did us in.”

Lynn logged four hits in the loss with one each from Lily Newhall, Riley Mannion, Julia Nickolau and Jenna Tobin. It was Tobin’s RBI single that got the Lynners started on the right foot in the bottom of the first inning. Kaelyn Jennings walked and stole second base, and scored on Tobin’s RBI single to give Lynn an early 1-0 edge.

Lynn added one more run in the bottom of the third. Nickolau led the inning with a single and stole second base. Jennings advanced Nickolau to third base on a sacrifice-bunt. Amanda Wilkins followed with a sharply hit grounder that was misplayed by Connecticut’s defense, allowing Nickolau to cross home plate for the 2-0 lead.

“We faced a good pitcher,” Wilkins said. “She pitched well. She’s one of the better pitchers in the tournament. We had to play small-ball to score our two runs in the first and third inning.”

From there, Lynn pitcher Newhall took command of the game in the circle. Newhall pitched seven innings, tallied nine strikeouts and allowed just one walk.

“Lily showed a lot of poise,” Wilkins said. “She had that tough sixth inning where there were some hits and errors mixed in there. She came back with a 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, which I thought was impressive. She hit her spots. They didn’t hit her until that sixth inning. They only had two hits going into that sixth inning.”

Things spiraled in the wrong direction in the top of the sixth, when a six-run Connecticut rally dug Lynn into a hole it couldn’t dig itself out of. Although Newhall retired Connecticut’s bats in order in the top of the seventh, Lynn couldn’t string together a late rally and Connecticut sealed its 6-2 victory.

Lynn now shifts gears to Wednesday morning’s game in the knockout stage of the tournament. The Lynners will play New York,  the No. 2 seed from Pool B, at 11 a.m. at Vernon Hill Field in Worcester.

“The biggest thing is to play seven full innings,” Wilkins said. “I think the girls learned their lesson today that you have to play 100 percent for seven innings. The way our pitching and defense have played, I think we can do it. We have to get our bats going. We’ve been a bit quiet. I’ve watched some of the other games and I have confidence.”

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