Manchester U10 All Stars starting pitcher Giancarlo Russo delivers a pitch during the team’s four inning 14-2 win over North Country in the Cal
Manchester U10 All Stars starting pitcher Giancarlo Russo delivers a pitch during the team's four inning 14-2 win over North Country in the Cal Ripken Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The All Stars placed third in the tournament, losing to Central Valley 8-2 on Sunday. (Brandon Canevari Photo)
MANCHESTER - Two-thirds of the way through the third round game, the Manchester U10 All Stars trailed Central Valley 3-2 in the Cal Ripken Tournament on Sunday. Then the wheels came off.

Central Valley scored five times in the fifth inning putting the game out of reach for the All Stars. Manchester - who lost the game 8-2 - needed to win the game in order to compete for the state championship.

"[It was a one-run game] going into the fifth inning and then those five runs pushed it to 8-2 and we just couldn't come back," said coach Jay King. "We needed to win. We needed to play clean defense in order to do it, but we were unable to."

The All Stars finished third in tournament, which was hosted by Manchester for the U10 division for the first time in eight years, according to Manchester Youth Baseball President Darrin Senecal.

Last year the All Stars won the state championship and advanced to the Regionals in Danbury, Conn.

This year their bid to repeat as state champs came up just a little short. After dropping their first game 11-0 in five innings on Saturday to eventual state champion Hartford, Manchester came roaring back to defeat North Country 14-2 in the second game of the day and eliminate them from the tournament.

"I think they were all disappointed with their performances in the morning and really wanted to get a win on [the] board and stay alive in this tournament and they came out and they showed us that they could do it," said assistant coach Brooks Addington.

North Country drew first blood, scoring off a fielder's choice in the first. But the All Stars took a commanding lead in the bottom half of the inning by going through the order and plating five times. While that was all Manchester would need, they did not take their foot off the gas. The All-Stars batted around again in the bottom of the second scoring six times to take an 11-1 advantage going into the third inning.

Starting pitcher Giancarlo Russo - who pitched three innings - gave up the final North Country run of the day in the third inning off of a fielder's choice.

"He pitched really well. They all pitched well. The key is getting the ball across the plate and throwing strikes. We had almost no errors in the entire game. So, he had good back up when guys were hitting the ball," said Addington. "I saw a lot of great plays out there today. It was good to see."

Manchester continued their onslaught in the bottom half of the third when Russo beat out a throw to first and stole second to lead off the inning. After a single by Will Addington that pushed Russo to third, Oscar Forrester hit an RBI single. Two batters later and with Will Addington on third Matt Kapusta hit an RBI single putting runners at the corners. The All Stars tacked on their last run of the game off a double steal before North Country was able to retire the side.

Kapusta took the hill for Manchester in the fourth and after snaring a hard liner back to him, he struck out the next two batters to retire the side in order and end the game.

North Country finished fourth in the tournament following the loss to Manchester and a 15-6 defeat at the hands of Central Valley earlier in the day.

"It was a couple of tough losses today, but you know you can't be at your best every day. This team has been rolling through all the tournaments that we've been at for the last two or three weeks and we took our first loss today in probably a month and the second one quickly followed," said North Country coach Phil Laramie. "We had a week and a half off after our last game and we fell flat."

Central Valley placed second in the tournament following their 8-4 loss in the championship game.

Hartford will compete in Regionals this year which will be held in Cranston, R.I.

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