Winning pose

The 2019 state champion Greater Keene 13 and under Babe Ruth baseball team. Back row, from left: Assistant Coach Jonah Ketola, Cal Tiani, Joel Beard, Casey Mooers, Jack Riendeau, Evan Gutkowski, Ben Dean, Assistant Coach Rob Roe Deal, Manager Kevin Dean. Front row, from left: Otto McLaughlin, Jordan Ketola, Brock Haynes, Cam Tinnin, Luke Weber, Ted McLaughlin. Not pictured: Mitch Cormier, Assistant Coach Lance Cormier.

STAMFORD, Conn. — The Greater Keene 13 and under Babe Ruth team clinched a spot in the New England Regional championship game after winning two games at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford, Conn., Wednesday.

Following a two-day weather delay, Keene opened with a 7-0 win over North Providence-Smithfield (R.I.) in the quarterfinals in the early afternoon, then returned to the field that night to upset Division A’s top seed, Greater Portland (Maine), 5-3.

Keene is now set to face the top seed of Division B, Pittsfield (Mass.), tonight at 7.

Pittsfield is the only team to defeat Keene in this postseason run (going all the way back to the state tourney). Pittsfield beat Keene Saturday in division play in six innings, 11-1. But despite the lopsided loss, Keene is chomping at the bit for a shot at redemption.

“Looking forward to it,” Keene Manager Kevin Dean said. “When we played [Pittsfield], it was during that Saturday that I think they had a recorded temperature of 114 degrees on the field, and a lot of our guys overheated. This is going to be a different game; our guys are going to go to war.”

Keene’s troops on the mound put in stellar performances Wednesday to lead their team to victory.

Evan Gutkowski nearly pitched a perfect game against Providence-Smithfield, allowing just one hit and striking out five in seven innings. In the second game, Jordan Ketola held Portland to two runs in five innings with three strikeouts.

On offense, Ted McLaughlin tallied three hits in both games, recording a game-high three RBI in the first game and one more in the second. Casey Mooers tallied three RBI across the two games (two in the first, one in the second), and Jack Riendeau and Owen McLaughlin each had one RBI (Riendeau in the first game, McLaughlin in the second).

“I couldn’t ask any more from this group of kids,” Dean said. “The way they played today was absolutely phenomenal. The two pitching performances were more than what we could even ask of them.”