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The Milford Post 196 Junior American Legion baseball team defeated Middletown Post 75 by a score of 5-1 at William Hunt Field in Bethel on Thursday, July 31.

With the victory, the 17U’s captured the Southern Division title and will play Tolland, a 2-1 victor over South Windsor, for the state championship at 12 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford. The winner of that game will advance to the New England Regionals.

Milford’s Dylan Bartel got the win against Middletown. A right hander, Bartel struck out nine batters and allowed Post 75 only a fourth-inning run in going the distance. He gave up four hits and set the final seven batters down in order.

Mike Howell hit a two-run triple off Middletown right-hander Dennis Beaudry in the bottom of the first inning.

Josh Mixie had a one-out single and was forced at second base by Mike Bevino’s grounder. Colin Firmender walked before Howell drove a pitch over Nick Brenchak’s head in right field to plate two runs.

When the relay throw went past third base and under the fence, Howell was awarded home.

Milford upped its advantage to 4-0 in the second.

Bryan Firmender led off with a double and scored on James Mucciacciaro’s two-out single to left field.

Middletown, which had advanced with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Bethel on Wednesday, got on the board in the fourth on two walks and two singles.

Bryan Firmender got a key out in the middle of the rally when the Post 196 second baseman went to his right to snare Seb Amenta’s line drive with runners on the corners.

Milford made it 5-1 in the fifth inning. Josh Mixie tripled to left-center to open the frame and scored on Bevino’s first-pitch single off relief pitcher Dan Botti.

Matthew Jambor and Tom Marchitto each singled to add to Milford’s eight-hit attack.