A pair of Keene teams are part of a field vying for a Senior Babe Ruth New England regional title in the next few days in Walpole.
And if either wins the double-elimination tournament and advances to the World Series, it will be a first for an area team at this level.
Several Keene Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth teams have advanced to World Series play, but no local team has made it that far in Senior Babe Ruth.
This year’s Senior Babe Ruth World Series is Aug. 2-9 in Mobile, Ala.
The tournament, at the Hubbard Field complex, is slated to open today at 4 p.m., but iffy weather is in the forecast.
The Keene U18 team — Junior Swamp Bats Black — coached by John Luopa is a veteran group. It opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Vermont, a state all-star team. The winner gets the Cape Cod entry in the second round.
The elite Cape Cod All Stars swept the Boston Prospects in a double-header to improve to 23-6 this season as it prepared for this event. The team won its ninth straight Eastern Massachusetts state title on July 7 and 8, by beating Lynn to advance to the regionals.
It has had a stranglehold on this event, too, having won six of the past seven regionals. It begins with a first-round bye.
In the opposite bracket, Keene’s other entry — Junior Swamp Bats Purple — coached by Luopa’s son, Tanner, meets Worcester, Mass., in the 4 p.m. opener, with the winner playing New Milford, Conn., next.
John Luopa’s squad is deep in pitching with Matt Dodd, Noah Timmer, Peter Haas, Zach Mooers and Shea Zina all quality starters, the coach said.
“We are versatile in the infield with players like (Gabe) Fletcher, Haas, Mooers, and Dodd capable of playing multiple positions,” Luopa said. “Soucia is out with an injury right now, and we are hoping he’ll be back at some point in the tournament. “
The outfield features Brian Langevin in center, and Taylor Letourneau, Jacob LaPlume, Zina and Timmer on the corners. Cam Chamberlain is behind the plate, “and is really good back there,” Luopa noted, calling the Norwich University player a tough kid with a quick release and an accurate arm.
LaPlume is the backup catcher, with Ryan Deo filling in at catcher as well. Deo also plays third base and outfield.
Longtime veteran coach Marty Testo and Matt Abbott are assistant coaches.
“Having someone like Marty on our staff is awesome,” Luopa said. “It’s like having two head coaches.”
The pitching staff for Keene’s other team features Carl Hoden, Aaron Kent, Preston Kirby, Taylor Maliska and Cal Sault. Kristian Hutchins and Jaden Philips catch, and both are strong, John Luopa said.
He called the team’s outfield speed as “above average,” with Tim Burgess, Thomas Fagiano, Kirby and Sault. Levi Bills mans shortstop with Phillips and Eric Norman sharing duties at second base. Nathan Gagnon, Maliska, Hoden and Kent the play corner infield spots.
The team played in The Keene Junior Swamp Bats Tournament this weekend and went 0-3-1. John Luopa’s more-veteran team lost in the finals, 8-4, to the Junior BaySox. The team was 4-1 overall in the tournament.