Baseball Walking it off
WEST HAVEN—The Cheshire baseball team won the CIAC Class LL title last spring and was voted No. 1 in the state.
The Rams have been ranked No. 1 in the GametimeCT poll since week four this year and have not lost since the opening game of the season.
The one thing this current group of players had not experienced was winning the SCC championship.
Down two runs to Amity heading into the bottom of the seventh, it looked like the Rams would come up short of obtaining the last feather for its cap.
Not so fast.
Cheshire rallied for three runs with Matt Costello tying the game with a two-run double to left center and Costello scoring from third on an errant throw from right field after Matt Downing’s single to right.
It was all enough for Cheshire to claim that SCC title, 4-3 over Amity.
“This is the most resilient team in the state,” Costello said. “We didn’t give up, we didn’t hang our heads in despair. We stayed confident the whole game. We battled to the end and it worked out in our favor.”
Costello was originally held at third on Downing’s single but scampered home with the winning run when the throw from right field was up the third base line and got by the Amity catcher.
“I saw my coach holding me up but I was ready to go all the way,” Costello said. “I saw the bad throw heading to the side of dugout and I made it home as fast as I can. There was no throw and I just ran after Matt Downing after I scored.”
Cheshire took an early lead, scoring in the bottom of the first. Paul Villecco doubled leading off the inning, coming in to score on a single to left by Costello.
Cheshire would have chances to tack on runs but stranded eight runners over the first four innings.
Amity tied it on one swing of the at by Julian Stevens who launched a home run to deep left which landed on top of the softball dugout adjacent to the baseball field.
The Spartans then took the lead in the top of the sixth. John McNellis walked, Stevens singled and Sebastian Formica walked, loading the bases. McNellis would score on a sacrifice fly by Jack Ranani and Stevens came in on a single by Sebastian Holt, putting Amity up 3-1.
That set the stage for the bottom of the seventh.
Villecco lead off with a walk and two batters later, Ryan Strollo singled to left, setting up Costello’s double and Downing’s single.
“They hit it. Unfortunately, we made a mistake here and there with a misplaced pitch and they made us pay for it,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said. “They are a great team and we are a really good team and this was a great game. What are you going to do? We came out on the wrong end this time. That’s baseball.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Paul Villecco, Cheshire: Villecco tripled, doubled and walked, scoring two runs.
“That’s what they are made of. What they just did in the bottom of the seventh inning, is what they’ve been doing all year,” Cheshire coach Mike Lussier said. “We’ve been down and battled back. We left a lot of guys on base but we said ‘we have three more outs, let’s get after it.’”
Ian Battapaglia of Cheshire was named the tournament MVP.
CHESHIRE 4, AMITY 3
AMITY 000 102 0—3 6 1
CHESHIRE 100 000 3—4 7 0
Batteries: A—Jack Ranani, Mike Shepa (4), Will Rotko (L, 6) and Jacob Crow; C—Rob Roks, Joe Sabo (6), Ian Battapaglia (W, 6) and Matt Costello