13's capture District II championship
“When you get to a championship game, you have to want the ball. You have to want to be at bat in a big spot. If you want to be a champion, you have to earn it.”
With those words, Trumbull manager Mike Buswell summed up the qualities shown by his newly crowned District II 13-year-old Babe Ruth champions following their 5-2 victory over Wilton at Unity Park on July 9.
Trumbull turned a pair of double plays — but it was a triple play in the bottom of the sixth inning that lifted the locals into the upcoming state tournament.
“A small guy like me, the ball was high, I didn’t think I could catch it,” Trumbull second baseman Dustin Siqueria said. “I knew Danny would be there.”
With Collin Kahal on second base and Henry Strmecki on first, Matt D’Elisa stepped to the plate as the potential tying run and sent a hot liner toward right field.
Siqueria jumped and snared the ball, came back to earth, and fired to shortstop Danny Ruchalski to double off Kahal. Ruchalski relayed the ball to Robert Olah at first to complete the 4-6-3 triple play.
In the bottom of the fourth with Trumbull clinging to a 1-0 lead, Wilton, who had won a 3-1 decision a day earlier to force the if-game, threatened.
Stremecki singled with one out, before D’Elisa ripped a double up the gap in right center.
Ruchalski took the relay and fired home to Mike D’Agostino, who caught the ball up the line and tagged out Stremecki.
In the next motion, he pegged the ball to Tyler Zikias, who double tagged the hard-sliding D’Elisa to end the inning.
Trumbull came in to hit and scored three runs, the first on a balk and the next two runs coming on RBI singles from Andrew Lojko and Olah.
Wilton halved the deficit to 4-2 with a pair of unearned runs in the home fifth. But with runners still on the corners, D’Agostino threw out Ben Rusin trying to steal second and Nolan Nemchek put the third out in the book on strikes.
Siqueria, who had singled home Trumbull’s first run with a two-out single in the third, tacked on the game’s final tally with another two-out base hit to score Mike Garofolo (walk) in the sixth.
Not lost in the whirlwind of fine defensive plays was the top-flight pitching of Nemcheck.
“Nolan attacks the zone and tonight did a good job of mixing his pitches,” Buswell said of his right hander. “He wanted the ball and we felt confident in his ability.”
Nemcheck, who negated a Westport rally in the second when he pounced on a popped up bunt attempt and fired to first for a double play, struck out the first two batters in the seventh to finish with seven strikeouts. He walked three batters and allowed five hits in his route-going performance.
“Wilton is a great team and all these games (in district) have been grinders,” Buswell said. It’s important because we’re not be rolling out (to states) uncomfortable in any situation. These kids know they can make the plays.”
State competition begins July 19 in East Lyme.
Trumbull advanced to the championship game with a 9-2 victory over Norwalk on Saturday.
Trumbull took an 8-2 lead over Norwalk and Zikias, Nemchek and Will Hnuatuk combined on a three-hitter.
Siqueira had three hits and Garofolo and D’Agostino two each.
Trumbull had opened the tournament with a 14-4 victory over Fairfied on Friday night.
Olah had two doubles, a single, and drove in four runs.
Ruchalski reached base three times and scored two runs from the top of the batting order.
Brandon Bottino, Hnutak and Mike Agoglia did the pitching.
Josh Colondona had a great game behind the plate.