MIDDLETOWN — The 12 St. Joseph seniors waited a long time for this one.
After going out in the state semifinals the past two seasons, the No. 11 Cadets finally finished the job, beating No. 1 Wolcott 6-3 to win the CIAC Class M championship.
It is the Cadets first title since 2013 and fifth overall.
“I couldn’t be happier for the 12 seniors,” St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves said. “They came in with a lot of expectations on them. They stuck with it and they had a mission this year. They made it to the state semifinals three years in a row and they knew they wanted to win a championship this year and they put their heart and soul into it.”
Stephen Paolini wasted no time getting things rolling with an opposite-field home run down the left field line on the game’s second pitch.
“That felt great to get that started. I barely got it and thought I got under it, but it felt good,” Paolini said. “This feels great. Getting the win in the semis felt great and we knew we had to come out and perform and that’s exactly what we did. I believe we have the best lineup in the state and having all those guys behind me and getting this win is so great.”
The Cadets threatened for more in the first but after loading the bases, Brett Adams escaped, striking out three in the inning.
Wolcott answered right back in the bottom of the first.
After a single by Dane Hassan, Alex James launched a home run to right, putting the Eagles up 2-1 after one.
After the first, St. Joe’s starter Jimmy Evans was sharp giving up only three more hits and one run before being lifted in the sixth.
St. Joseph busted out in fourth with RBI hits by Jack Wallace, Charlie Pagliarini and Hadyn Gourley, and a sacrifice fly by Paolini, to go up 6-2.
Wolcott got one back in the bottom of the fourth with Tom Marciano driving in Alec Calabro with a double to left.
Wolcott brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth with no outs, but Michael Chaves came on in relief of Evans, striking out three to escape the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Chaves sat down the Eagles in order, striking out the final batter and setting off the celebration on the mound.
“The whole year we fought, fought, fought but tonight we came up a little short,” Wolcott coach Tary Scott said. “We had runners on, but we couldn’t get them all in. I am proud of this team. Usually, during the season we got that one big hit, but today we didn’t get it. Baseball is a funny game.”
Wolcott lost in the Class M championship game for the second straight season.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Stephen Paolini, St. Joseph. Paolini, who was recently drafted by the Atlanta Braves, had two hits including the home run and drove in two runs.
ST. JOSEPH 6 WOLCOTT 3
St. Joseph 100 500 0—6 7 0
Wolcott 200 100 0—3 6 1
Batteries: SJ—Jimmy Evans (W), Michael Chaves (6) and Aaron Kirby; W—Brett Adams (L), Dane Hassan (4) and Jeff Nicol