PORTSMOUTH — Coach Vinny Zingariello knew Wednesday night’s game against North Manchester/Hooksett would provide the measuring stick that his 10/11/12 Portsmouth All-Stars needed, having circled this game on the calendar since the District 2 tournament schedule was published.

Portsmouth came up short — barely — but it certainly provided an appetizer for a possible rematch with higher stakes on the line later this month.

North Manchester/Hooksett scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning to take the lead, and its combination of three pitchers held Portsmouth to five hits for a 3-2 victory in Little League baseball action at Hislop Field.

Portsmouth (2-1) outscored its first two opponents in round-robin play by a combined score of 29-2.

“We measured up pretty well,” Zingariello said. “We didn’t jump over the water line, but 3-2 — you can’t ask for much better than that. We all played well, we kept our heads up and we battled. It was great to see.”

This rivalry developed during the summer of 2017, when many of these kids were involved in Portsmouth’s 6-5, comeback victory in the 8/9/10 District 2 title game.

North Manchester/Hooksett improved to 3-0 this season.

“Every time we play this team it’s either 6-5, 4-3, and in this case it was 3-2,” North Manchester/Hooksett coach Bou Baker said. “These teams battled hard. Defense was great on both sides, pitching was great on both sides, and we ended up on top.”

Portsmouth pitcher Joe Zingariello struck out six and allowed only four hits on the day, but the bottom of the third inning narrowly proved to be the difference.

With one out and Portsmouth ahead 2-1, Brendan Horne barley beat out an infield single, which set up E.J. Baker’s RBI double to tie the score at 2-2.

Mason Paquette followed by ripping a dying line drive that glanced off the glove of a charging Ian Rooney in center field. The ball ended up rolling to the fence, and Paquette rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run to give North Manchester/Hooksett a 3-2 lead.

“It’s inches,” Vinny Zingariello. “The kid was safe at first by half a step. That’s the name of the game."

Joe Zingariello retired the final seven batters he faced to give Portsmouth a chance.

“I thought he pitched great,” Vinny Zingariello said. “He was locating and throwing hard today. He was loose. When he’s loose, he’s a much better player.”

Portsmouth took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after Nate Delaney led off with a single, and pinch runner Austin Corbett eventually scored on Horne's third wild pitch. North Manchester/Hooksett’s Caden Jordan delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second to tie the game.

Horne struck out five in his two-inning start before Paquette pitched the next three innings. Zavier Lampert gave Portsmouth a 2-1 lead with an RBI double in the top of the third, but he was thrown out at third base trying to stretch it to end the inning.

Paquette worked around an Andrew Hudling leadoff single in the fourth, and he followed that with a perfect fifth.

Joe Zingariello greeted North Manchester/Hooksett closer James Blaisdell with a single to lead off the sixth, and he advanced to second base on a Lampert ground out. Blaisdell stranded Zingariello by retiring the next two hitters.

“It was a lot of fun," Baker said. “We’ll definitely see them again, and we’ll battle just like we did today.”

Portsmouth will look to rebound on Saturday morning at Rye (1-2).

“This was a well-played game, we didn’t give up,” Vinny Zingariello said. “We need to hit a little bit more and do some of the little things better. That’s all.”