Oh Canada! Milford All-Stars hope to carve out a comeback trail vs. northern neighbors
Updated: Aug 10, 2022
By Rick Menning
The landscape just got a lot more challenging for the Milford Major Division All-Stars at the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina.
After dropping a hard-fought 2-1 decision to Delmar, Maryland in their opening game on Wednesday afternoon at Stallings Stadium, the New England champions must now play and win every day through next Monday if their dreams of a title are to remain intact.
The journey is tough, but the Connecticut state champions are one tough team that would certainly appear up to this difficult mission after battling their Mid-Atlantic rivals into a seventh inning.
That first Mile marker on the comeback trail comes up on Thursday at 7 p.m. when the Milford All-Stars take on Alberta, Canada, which also lost by a single run (1-0) in its first game against the Philippines. The prime-time contest will again be televised on ESPN+.
Connecticut jumped ahead 1-0 against Maryland in the top of the third inning when Gabby Rodriguez lined an RBI single to left field scoring Maddy Bonanno, who had reached on an error and proceeded to steal second base before taking third base on a passed ball.
The Delmar squad tied it up in its half of that inning, and that was the extent of the run production until the decisive seventh frame.
Leather shines again
Bonanno's great running catch in center field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning kept the game alive and forced the extra frame as she raced to her right and chased down the ball in full stride.
Pitcher Sophia Horvack kept the Delmar batters in check most of the afternoon and while only recording three strikeouts, she induced a lot of grounders and routine fly balls and pop-ups in a very effective outing inside the circle.
Shortstop Gabby Rodriguez got the fielding gems started in the very first inning when she made a super catch along the left field line just past the third base bag.
It was an outstanding back-up effort as third baseman Julia Scibek had to quickly look down to make sure she didn't trip over the third base bag as the flight of the ball took it into a precarious area. Rodriguez was right there to provide support.
Left fielder Chloe Capalbo then got the third out that inning with a nice grab on a soft liner.
Catcher Ariella DiOrio did her usual terrific job, with expert handling of two high pop-ups for outs behind home plate, while second baseman Lily Stankevich and third baseman Julia Scibek once again made their fielding plays look easy to first baseman Maddie Deldin.
The New England representatives again displayed their speed on the basepaths as along with Maddy Bonanno the stolen-base achievers were Maddie Deldin, Julia Scibek and Gabby Rodriguez.
Along with the clutch rip by Gabby Rodriguez, the trio of Leah Corris, Julia Scibek and Maddy Bonanno had base hits for Milford, which with a victory on Thursday night would play a third-round game on Friday at 1 p.m.