Trumbull's season ends in semifinals
The Trumbull Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the Class LL baseball state tournament for the first time since 2005.
The No. 8 seed 19-7 Eagles faced off against third-seeded 19-3 Southington at Muzzy Field in Bristol on Tuesday.
Southington got a complete-game effort from Joe Rivera on the hill, as he tossed a six-hitter giving the Knights a hard-fought 4-2 win.
Trumbull fell one game short of playing for the state title. The last time the Eagles played in the title game was when they finished as runner-up in 2001, and the last time Trumbull took home a state title was in 1998.
The Eagles and the Knights put together a three-hit first inning, with Southington getting the most of the advantage breaking out to a 2-1 lead.
Brandon Liscinsky led off the game with a solid single and moved to second on a passed ball.
Willy Velez grounded out, sending the lead runner to third. Casey Mack pounded a single to drive in Liscinsky to put Trumbull on the board.
James DeNomme busted a two-out double into the gap setting up runners at second and third. The Eagles were primed to knock the door off the hinges when Rivera slammed it shut, getting Colin Keyes on a ground out to second base.
Armed with a 1-0 lead, Keyes took the mound and ran into trouble with two outs, after Edward Shaw singled and was sacrificed to second.
Matt Sirois slapped a run-scoring double to the gap in left that Jeff Sam tried to run down. Sirois scored on a single from Andrew Goralski to put the Knights on top 2-1.
“We certainly felt good about getting on the board first,” Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said.
“We gave the lead right back to them. And, then they got two more in the fourth and that really put the pressure on us.”
Keyes offered up just one hit over the next two innings trying to keep the Eagles in the game, but he was struggling trying to hit the target — issuing four walks.
“Colin wasn’t as sharp as usual, but in a tournament like this there is not a whole lot of time to rest up. He didn’t give up anything else after the first inning.”
Avery Santos came on in relief of Keyes and quickly set down the Knights in the third, after two runners reached on walks.
A single by Velez in the third, and a walk with an out on a stolen base attempt by Santos were the only Eagle threat over the middle innings.
“Rivera did a good job keeping us off-balance mixing up his fastball and breaking ball,” Pacelli said. “We knew this would be a close game and it would come down to pitching and defense.”
It all came down to some precise execution and some timely hitting, with the Knights plating two crucial runs in the fourth.
Brett Shaw led off with a walk, but Santos alertly fielded a sacrifice bunt and threw to shortstop Luke Waldek to nail the lead runner.
With Rivera on first base after the fielder’s choice, Edward Shaw pounded a single to right field and a wild pitch had runners at second and third with one out.
Matt DiNello lifted a sacrifice fly to left to chase a run home. After an intentional walk to Sirois, a run-scoring single from Goralski gave Southington a 4-1 lead.
Jake Levison camped under a fly to center for the final out, but Trumbull had its work cut out.
In the fifth, Waldek singled, went to second on a wild pitch and wound up at third on a ground out to first. Rivera left him there and the Eagles were just six outs away from elimination.
“We haven’t scored a lot of runs in the tournament,” said Pacelli. “But I felt if we could come up with three or four runs we would be alright because of the strength in our pitching and defense.”
Trumbull did close the gap, scoring a run in the sixth to make it a 4-2 deficit.
Velez singled to lead off and went to second on a ground out and took third on a passed ball.
DeNomme brought the run home on a ground out, before Rivera notched his sixth strikeout to pull the plug on the uprising.
Ryan Bayuk took over on the hill in the bottom of the sixth, striking out two batters to neutralize the damage of a walk and a single.
Down to its final chance, Ryan Fritz walked and was replaced by pinch runner Liam Moore.
Southington made its first error of the game on a potential game ending double play at shortstop, letting Waldek reach first base.
Rivera took it upon himself and recorded the last two outs to send Southington to the title game against Amity.
“We had a good season winning 19 games,” Pacelli said. “I’m proud of my kids and what they were able to accomplish.
“We are certainly going to miss all the seniors that helped make this a very memorable season.”