BRISTOL – The road to Williamsport, Pa has returned.
Manchester Little League will represent the Constitution State during the Little League East Region Tournament in Bristol starting on Monday, Aug. 9 at the Giamatti Little League Center
A 10-0 win over Wilton in the Connecticut Little League State Championship on Aug. 1 punched Manchester's ticket to Bristol after claiming its first-ever state title in the victory. This summer's tournament marks the return of the Little League Regionals after the covid-19 pandemic caused the 2020 event to be cancelled.
Rob Rastelli is in the middle of his first season as Manchester's manager, but coached the under-11 group to a district championship last year.
The District 8 squad went 10-1 to qualify for the New England Regional this season, thanks in large part to the talents of Eli Bucko. One hit was all Wilton could muster in the state final as Bucko fanned five in four innings of work on the mound. At the plate, Bucko went 3-for-3 with a double and and RBI to highlight Manchester's 11-hit onslaught.
Back on July 15, Manchester downed Suffield, 2-1, in the District 8 final to kickstart its run to Bristol. A 4-3 victory against Jewett City on July 23 earned Manchester the Section 4 title, before cruising past Wilton for a spot in the East Region Tournament.
Along with Bucko, Arlen Peyman, Paul Virdokian and Sean Stolarz are names to watch for Manchester. Peyman homered in the state title game while Virdokian and Stolarz have been hot inside the batter's box this summer.
Manchester will look to be the first Connecticut team to qualify for the Little League World Series since Fairfield American Little League did it in 2017. Fairfield played well that summer as it reached the semifinal round of the U.S. Championship.
Manchester received a bye in the first round of the double-elimination tournament and will face the winner of Rhode Island-Vermont game. North Providence (RI) beat Warwick 4-2 Continental/American in the Rhode Island final while Essex Town (VT) won 2-1 over Addison County in Vermont.
Peabody West (MA), North Manchester Hookset (NH) and Saco/Dayton (ME) round out the rest of the New England Regional bracket.
During the previous East Region tournament in 2019, Rhode Island beat New Hampshire 6-4 to advance as the New England representative in the Little League World Series. Connecticut's Madison Little League went 2-2 during the regional tournament as it lost to Barrington (RI) in the semifinal round.
First pitch for Manchester's opener at Breen Field is set for Monday at 1 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-4968 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.