By Phil Perry, Globe Correspondent
Newton SouthEast's magic ran out in Bristol, Conn. on Wednesday afternoon as the state Little League baseball champion was eliminated from the New England Regional with a 10-4 loss to Westport, Conn.
It was the team's first loss in 13 elimination games this summer.
"I just reminded them to hold their heads high," Newton SouthEast coach John Taft said. "We beat out 172 teams in Massachusetts to make it to Bristol."
Catcher Brandon Lee got Newton off to a strong start with a two-run home run to straightaway center field in the first inning.
Westport didn't stay off the scoreboard long. The Connecticut state champion plated two runs in the bottom of the first and then erased a 3-2 deficit in the fourth, erupting for eight runs for a 10-3 cushion.
Newton scored a single run in the sixth.
After the game, players from Lionsville, Penn. -- in Bristol for the Mid-Atlantic Regional -- who had become friendly with Newton SouthEast's players, held their bats in the air making a tunnel for Newton to walk through as the team left the dugout for the final time.
"I'm pretty sure that brought smiles to just about every kid on the team," Taft said as he waited to dine with his team at a Bertucci's in nearby Southington.
As state champions, Newton SouthEast has been notified that it will be honored at both Fenway Park and the State House in the near future.
Many of its players will play for Taft this fall as part of the Triple Crown Kings, based in Newton.
Though the final game didn't end as the team had hoped, Taft said he thought his team demonstrated a unique resiliency all summer.
"The never-give-up spirit of these kids -- that more than anything is something I will remember these kids for forever," Taft said.
Westport, along with Rye, N.H., South Burlington, Vt., and Lincoln, R.I. moved into Thursday's semifinals. The winner advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.