Legion season ends with loss to Cheshire

After losing its first game via forfeit due to the use of an ineligible player, the Cheshire American Legion baseball team beat Trumbull, 10-4 and 12-2, on Thursday afternoon to win their best-of-three section final.

With the doubleheader sweep at Burt Leventhal Field, Cheshire (21-8) advanced to the Super Regional at Cubeta Stadium that began Saturday in Stamford, with Post 92 winning its first two games.

“They came out hungry. We came out hungry too,” Trumbull manager Brett Conner said. “Tip your caps to Cheshire. They were the better team today and they played well. We gave it everything we had.”

Post 141 led 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning in the first game of the doubleheader, but Cheshire struck for 10 unanswered runs over the final three frames.

Wes Robertson’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning off of Post 141 reliever Joe Nemchek gave Cheshire the lead for good.

Jon Koski, who tied the game with a two-run single with two outs in the seventh, then belted a grand slam later in the eighth inning to provide the final scoreline.

Koski, who pinch hit in the sixth inning and drew a bases-loaded walk, went 2-for-2 with seven RBIs.

“You always feel good up four nothing, but there were still a lot of innings left to be played,” Conner said.

Pat Downey added three hits and three runs scored for Post 92, while Robertson chipped in with two hits. Christian Colp worked four innings of two-hit shutout relief to notch the victory on the mound.

Mat DeRienzo and Matt Fasoli had two hits apiece for Trumbull and Simon Whiteman went 3-for-5 with a run batted in.

In the second game, Koski did his damage with his arm as well as his bat, firing a six-hitter in a mercy-rule shortened, six-inning victory.

“There was no reason why we wouldn’t be fired up about this,” said Koski, a Cheshire Academy graduate who play at Daytona State College (Fla.) in the fall. “We all wanted this so bad.”

Fasoli and Tim Keckler singled in the fifth inning and came around to score on wild pitches to account for Post 141’s two runs.

Leading 5-2, Cheshire erupted for seven in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Michael Purcell’s three-run home run and a two-run single by Robertson paved the way. Koski continued his torrid hitting with two hits and one RBI.

Defensive miscues by Trumbull aided Cheshire’s comeback in game one.

With Post 92 trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Robertson bunted for a base hit. Purcell followed with a tailor-made, double-play grounder to shortstop that was booted. Downey then punched an RBI double down the right-field line to make it 4-2.

Nemchek came on in relief of Carl Johnson, who took over for starter Stanley Wolpiuk (three hits, six walks, five strikeouts) in the sixth, to face the next batter, Ryan Pierpont. Fasoli made a diving catch on Pierpont’s flare to right, before Nemcheck struck out Jay Schaff for the second out.

Koski then slammed his game-tying single into the right-field corner. Nemchek stranded the go-ahead run, getting Joe Anderson to fly out to Whiteman in center field.

Colp worked a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the eight, before another Trumbull error ignited Cheshire’s six-run uprising in the bottom of the frame.

Kyle Hodgdon was hit by a pitch and Dan Schock lifted a fly ball that was dropped. Run-scoring singles by Robertson and Purcell gave Cheshire the lead, before Koski delivered the knockout punch with a grand slam off of reliever Matt Baccaro.

“Errors are always costly,” Conner said. “Teams that can’t make the plays and do the small things don’t usually end up on the winning side. We’re on the losing side, we didn’t make the plays, but we gave it everything we had.”

Trumbull finished its season 24-8 overall.

“It’s a cliché, but every pitch, every at-bat, every inning, you have to focus and compete, because it’s hard,” Cheshire head coach Bill Robertson said. “Most of my guys, like their guys, played 16 innings today after playing seven yesterday and the emotion of that. I think our guys were able to keep our composure.”