BRISTOL - Through three innings, Forestville’s Little League baseball team clung to a 1-0 lead despite amassing just one hit halfway through Monday’s City Series matchup against the McCabe-Waters Astros.
Then the Dodgers busted the game open. Using six walks, two wild pitches, a two-run single by Hector Rivera-Martinez and Dante DePass’ RBI single, Forestville took a six-run lead and got out to a 1-0 series start with a 7-3 victory at Breen Field.
Had Forestville not enjoyed that big inning, it may not have mattered. Aiden Lopez was dealing, the club’s ace pitcher setting the tone early and never slowing down.
The right-handed starter collected 12 strikeouts, all of his outs coming via strikes in four shutout innings, and he did not allow a hit on 86 pitches. He may have saved his best throw for last, a fastball blown past swinging Astros leadoff hitter Mason Allen to strand two runners in the bottom of the fourth.
Lopez's start was part of a near combined no-hitter between him, Nick Ziegel and DePass before a one-out single in the sixth by Billy Zabawa.
Though Lopez allowed seven baserunners on five walks, a hit batsman and a teammate’s error, he was still terrific in leading the Dodgers to a battle against Edgewood or a rematch against McCabe-Waters on Friday. (Those two teams play on Wednesday with the winner getting a Friday matchup.)
Forestville jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first following back-to-back two-out walks by DePass and Kaden Paghense. Ziegel cashed in on the opportunity by roping a line drive to first base that was dropped but ruled an RBI single. DePass scored, but McCabe-Waters starter Chase Dauphinee shut down the inning with a strikeout.
The two teams then went back-and-forth, trading punchouts as Dauphinee and Allen nearly matched Lopez with six strikeouts through 3 ⅓ innings before the offensive explosion.
In the fourth, however, Tyler Ryan, Chase Deshanse and Lopez drew consecutive one-out walks to set up Rivera-Martinez’s softly hit two-run single up the middle, and DePass followed by lofting his single into center field for a 4-0 lead. Forestville added two more runs in the inning with Rivera-Martinez and DePass scoring on wild pitches and DePass added another run in the fifth on an RBI single crushed to deep dead center field.
“Every hit matters,” Forestville head coach Clay Roberts said. “Just put the ball in play, make [the defense] make the play on you. ... It was awesome."
McCabe-Waters charged back in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs, and Zabawa ripped a line drive that could have started a rally if it found a gap, but it careened right into DePass’ glove at second base. The club wound up scoring two runs on wild pitches, but it wasn’t enough.
Neither was loading the bases with two outs in the sixth and scoring a run on a walk. Paghense then entered in relief, and the lefty walked in a run before stranding the game-tying run at first on a strikeout of Kaden Dragon.
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com