American Legion: Trumbull knocks out Hamden

Trumbull staved off elimination for the second game in a row on Tuesday afternoon in the 19U American Legion state tournament, defeating host Hamden, 13-0, in a Pod E Southern Division matchup.

The locals will need to defeat Southington (22-8) twice tomorrow at Southington High School to earn a spot in the Southern Division Super Regional.

It was a 14-hit blitz that carried Trumbull (18-10) past Hamden Post 88, the Zone II champions.

Clean-up batter Dan Ruchalski led the charge, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and seven runs batted in.

“It was huge. It’s an elimination game,” Ruchalski said. “We haven’t been hitting great. We haven’t been getting big hits but we all got big hits today.”

Vin DeRubeis added three hits and two RBIs and Dustin Siqueira had two hits and scored three runs.

The deluge started in the top of the first.

Trumbull pinned four runs on Hamden starter Frank Niro, with Ruchalski providing the big blow. The lefty laced a bases-clearing double after two walks and a Post 88 error to make it 3-0 before an out was recorded.

After plating another run when Tim Lojko grounded into a double play, Trumbull piled on three more runs in the second. DeRubeis and Andrew Lojko sandwiched RBI singles around a run-scoring triple by Ruchalski.

“It’s nice to get those four runs,” Trumbull coach Jack McFarland said. “When you get tack-ons with a wood bat… We really swung the bats well.”

It was more than enough run support for Trumbull starter Evan Warner and reliever Jared Rosen — who combined on a two-hit shutout. Warner, the closer for Trumbull High in the spring, worked 5 1/3 innings and surrendered just a pair of infield singles to Niro.

“We’ve turned him into a starter,” McFarland said. “He’s got a real good arm.”

Winning its second straight elimination game after dropping its tournament opener to Southington, 5-4, Trumbull has started to peak at the right time.

“We’re playing the top team in the Zone… Even though we’re number three, I think we’re trending up,” McFarland said. “We were 7-7 at one time… We’re in a tough Zone, so our kids are ready for a game like this.”

Some of that inherent readiness comes from Trumbull’s veteran core of seven postgraduates that have played together for nearly a decade.

“We’ve been playing with each other, some of us since we were eight years old in Little League,” Ruchalski said. “We’ve know each other forever. Everyone wanted to come back. Everyone wanted to play. This is awesome.

“One last time, it’s really like our last time together playing — everyone on the same team.”