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Conn. Advances To Little League World Series

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BRISTOL, Conn. (AP)   Will Lucas had four hits and four RBIs to lead Connecticut over New Hampshire 14-0 in Saturday’s Little League Eastern Regional final.

As the New England champion, the Connecticut team, Fairfield American, advances to the Little League World Series in
Williamsport, Pa. The 16-team tournament starts Thursday.

It is the second time in three years that Fairfield American made it to Williamsport, doing it in 2010 as well. The Connecticut state champion went 6-0 in the round-robin regional tournament, outscoring its opponents 60-8 and beating the other five state champions from New England at least once.

Connecticut lefthander Matt Kubel pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He threw 88 pitches.

“My fastball had pretty decent velocity and I was able to him my spots,” said Kubel, who escaped jams in the third and fourth innings when the New Hampshire team, Bedford, had two runners on base.

Connecticut manager Bill Meury said Kubel’s velocity was down when he saw him warming up before the game, but it improved once he took the mound.

“I think before the game I was just nervous,” Kubel said.  “Once I got on the mound and saw the fans cheering, I just stepped it up.”

Kubel had the second of three straight two-out singles in the first to give Connecticut a 1-0 lead.

Kevin Oricoli had three hits and three RBIs for Connecticut and Biagio Paoletta hit a grand slam in the sixth, capping a five-run inning to seal the victory.

Lucas and Oricoli had run-scoring hits in the third off New Hampshire starter Tim Saltzman to make it 3-0. Lucas drove in another run with a two-out single in the fourth and had a two-run single in the five-run fifth.

“They’re a very good hitting team. I give them all the credit in the world,” said New Hampshire manager Kevin Lavigne.

Grant Lavigne had three hits for New Hampshire, which went 2-3 in the regional tournament. Ryan Meury had two hits, scored three runs and drove in two for Connecticut.

“The offense definitely helped me out,” Kubel said.  “It makes you know you don’t have to be perfect.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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