Trumbull Babe Ruth’s Johnny Bova, who was robbed of a go-ahead hit in the fifth inning, came through in the clutch in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Bova plated the winning run with a two-strike single to center field, as Trumbull walked off with a 2-1 triumph over Newtown in Thursday night’s 14-year-old state championship game at Unity Park.
With the bases loaded, nobody out and the infield and outfield pulled in, Bova knocked in Bryan Kraus to send Trumbull onto the regional tournament.
Trumbull had beaten Newtown four times before, including in pool play of the double-elimination tournament.
“It’s hard to beat a team five times — especially a team as good as they are,” Trumbull coach Mike Buswell said. “But that’s a credit to our players and sticking to the game plan and practicing and playing together as a team.”
Kraus opened the seventh when he reached on an error.
He stole second and stayed put when Justin Delaney reached on an infield single to the left side. Dylan Moran was hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting the stage for Bova’s second bases-jammed opportunity of the night.
Bova was robbed on a diving play by Newtown shortstop Jack Petersen, who threw home to nab Kraus for the first out of the fifth. Petersen also made a leaping snare of a two-out liner off the bat of Michael Brown in the frame.
“It was a great feeling, especially after getting robbed by the shortstop on a great play in the fifth inning,” Bova said.
Newtown got out of a jam earlier in the game when it executed a rundown between third base and home plate.
“A couple plays didn’t go our way, but we battled back and Johnny had a clutch hit to send us home with the win,” said Kraus, who started the game and struck out 12 batters.
Delaney came on struck out the only batter he faced, keeping the game tied heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Trumbull struck in the opening inning.
Jack Wallace led off with a single, and after Kraus ground out and Delaney struck out, Moran plated Wallace with a single.
Newtown tied the game in the third, when Petersen singled and scored on a Matt Pietrorazio single.
Newtown starting pitcher Petersen and reliever Steven Cotton, with help from stellar defense, limited Trumbull’s potent offense.
“We made every single play. We just lost to the better team today,” Newtown manager Chris Petersen said. “It was just a great game.”
“These are two great teams that know each other well and it came down to the last inning,” said Mike Majeski, an assistant coach with Newtown.
Many of the Trumbull team members, after winning the state crown last summer, came up just one game short of qualifying for the 13U World Series.
Buswell’s squad won’t have to venture far for this one, since it will take place at Brien McMahon High in Norwalk, beginning in late July.
“Only one team at every level advances, and for every other team it’s turning into summer and time to hand the uniforms in,” said Buswell, adding that he is pleased his players have a chance to hold onto those uniforms at least a little bit longer.