RYE — Coming on the heels of its first loss, the Portsmouth 10/11/12 All-Star opened Saturday morning’s District 2 tournament game against Rye with the bounce back it was looking for.
Portsmouth scored all the runs its needed during a five-run bottom of the first inning, while starting pitcher Devin Driscoll allowed two hits in four innings to work in Portsmouth’s 6-3 victory over Rye in Little League baseball action at Flash Jenness Field.
The win followed Wednesday’s 3-2 loss North Manchester/Hooksett.
“We came out of the gates flying, which was great,” Portsmouth coach Vinny Zingariello said. “But on a hot day, you’ve gotta keep that killer instinct. Five runs in the inning is great, but you gotta follow that up. It’s tough to go almost blank the rest of the game.”
Portsmouth was held to a total of four hits by Patrick Bancroft and Dana Mussulman, but the bottom of the first began when Kenny Avery reached third base on an outfield error.
After Joe Zingariello drove in Avery with a one-out infield single, Baycroft struggled with his command and walked four hitters in the inning. Ryan Cummings delivered a two-run single, and Ian Rooney followed with a sacrifice fly to give Portsmouth a 5-0 lead.
“(Bancroft) really settled in, I don’t know if it was nerves in the first inning,” Vinny Zingariello said. “We took a couple of close pitches, took a couple of walks, and we got some timely hits. After that he settled in, gave us trouble and pitched a great game.”
Bancroft struck out the side in the second and pitched a perfect third, before Mussulman took over in the fourth. The only hits Mussulman allowed was a Zavier Lampert RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.
“We played a great five-inning ball game,” Rye coach Greg Weeks said. “That’s a great team over there and we knew what we were going against. We had an error on the first batter and we walked four guys, so against a team like that, they’re going to score five runs and we were lucky it wasn’t more. After that the kids battled pretty well.”
Driscoll (six strikeouts, two walks) struck out four through the first two innings and didn’t allow a hit until Gar Hindle’s home run in the top of the third. Driscoll struck out the final two batters he faced before Ryan Clark took over in the fifth. Driscoll hadn’t pitched since a nine-strikeout, four-hit performance in last Saturday’s 13-2 season-opening victory over Lamprey River.
“It wasn’t our best game, but it was fun to just get there again and the whole team played really well,” Drsicoll said. “I felt pretty good. I didn’t have the command I usually do, but I pitched alright.”
Bancroft blasted a two-run home run off Clark in the top of the fifth, but Clark struck out two in a perfect top of sixth to secure the win.
Rye (1-3) has only scored 13 runs thus far, while surrendering 17 runs to keep it in every game. Rye would likely have to win both Monday’s home game against Somersworth and Wednesday’s game at Laconia to have a chance at making the District II semifinals.
“The pitching and defense has been fine, but when you only put up three runs against these teams it’s not going to be enough.” Weeks said.
Portsmouth should clinch a spot in the District II semifinals with one win its final two games of round-robin play. Portsmouth travels to Concord on Monday and Somersworth next Saturday.