By John Goralski
The Southington South Little League 9-10 All-Stars haven’t slowed down as they raced into the Eastern Region Invitational in Cranston, R.I.
The locals have surged past teams from Maine and New Hampshire to take a 2-0 lead in the New England pool-play brackets.
At this point, the Southington squad is no stranger to postseason competition. They were unblemished in their capture of a CT District 5 title. They stayed undefeated as they locked up the CT Section I title, and they suffered just one loss on their way to the 2013 CT State title.
On Tuesday, July, 30, Southington rebounded from their first postseason loss to cruise past Newington, 13-2, to clinch the best-of-three series. Southington won the opening game, 13-3, before losing in an 11-1 game that tied the state final series. With their win in the rematch, Southington South became Team Connecticut for the regional competition.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, the locals began their quest for a regional title against a field of 11 state champions at the Eastern Regional Invitational at Verrato Field in Rhode Island.
The teams are split into two pool-play brackets (Mid-Atlantic and New England) and the top two teams from each pool will play for the Mid-Atlantic and New England crowns before the meeting in the Eastern Region championship. The New England championship is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. with the region championship at 11 a.m. the following day.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, Jake Napoli struck out nine batters in 4 2/3 scoreless innings to set up Southington’s first victory in pool play. Windham, Me. managed to put five runners on base with walks and errors, but Napoli left the game with a 1-0 lead after reaching his pitch-count limit.
Southington responded with a six-run rally in the top of the fifth inning to put the game out of reach. Nikko Buonanni kicked off the rally with a walk, and Michael Gurdenza followed with a single. Daniel DiCorpo scored two runs with his single. Dylon Olson drew another walk, and Napoli earned two RBI with a base hit. Shane LaPorte capped the rally with a two-run homerun over the right center fence.
Southington held on for a 7-0 win.
Napoli scored the victory. Sean Olson allowed just one hit with one inning of middle relief pitching, and Jake Neuman finished the game with a strikeout.
Maine fell to 0-1 with the loss.
On Sunday, Southing-ton rallied to a 2-0 record with an 11-2 victory over Bedford, N.H. Bedford ran out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, but Southington responded with an eight-run rally to put the game out of reach. Southington scored once in the fifth inning and twice in the sixth as they rallied for 11 runs on 10 hits.
Neuman scattered four hits, two runs, and six strikeouts over four innings to get the win, and Olson threw a pair of scoreless innings in relief. Napoli, Neuman, and Buonanni had two hits apiece. Neuman finished with a double, 3 RBI, and one run scored at the plate.
With the victory, Southington improved to 2-0 in pool play to earn their first day off in the tournament. The team is scheduled to play North Andover, Mass. on Tuesday, Aug. 6 and South Burlington, Vt. on Thursday to wrap up pool play.
2013 Eastern Region Invitational
Southington (CT) 7, Windham (ME) 0
Saturday, Aug. 3
At Cranston, RI
Southington 010 060 — 7 8 2
Windham 000 000 — 0 1 2
WP—Jake Napoli. LP—Caleb McCartney. HR—CT: Shane LaPorte. RBI—CT (6): Jake Neuman (2), Shane LaPorte (2), Daniel DiCorpo (2). SB—ME (4): Brady Afthim, Caleb McCartney, Cameron Joyce, Quinton Hastings.
Records—Southington, 1-0. Windham, 0-1.
Southington (CT) 11, Bedford (NH) 2
Sunday, Aug. 4
At Cranston, RI
Southington 000 812 — 11 10 1
Bedford 101 000 — 2 4 4
WP—Jake Neuman. LP—TJ O’Connell. HR—NH: Kyle Lavigne. 3B—CT: Vincent Spizzoucco. 2B—CT: Jake Neuman; NH: Michael Pratte. RBI—CT (7): Jake Neuman, Shane LaPorte, Jake Napoli (3), Dylan Olson, Vincent Spizzoucco. NH (2): Kyle Lavigne, Michael Pratte. SB—CT: Jake Neuman.
Records—Southington, 2-0. Bedford, 0-2.