By John Goralski
Rains erased any chance of a Southington comeback in Newington on Friday, May 23, but that was just a bump in the road for the Blue Knight baseball team.
Southington clinched a share of the conference title with a win over Simsbury on Thursday. Newington snapped the team’s 11-game winning streak, but the Knights rebounded with a 5-2 win over New Britain to claim sole possession of the conference crown.
The regular season is amping up with five games last week and two more on the horizon, but Blue Knight coach Charlie Lembo took time to appreciate his team’s accomplishment.
“Winning the conference has always been one of our main goals. This is three out of four years that we’ve won the division, and that’s important,” said the coach. “The first goal is to get the eight wins needed to qualify for the tournament, and I always hope to get those as fast as we can. Then, we want to win the division. It’s one more step toward what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
Now, the Knights need some rest. After playing five games over a six day stretch, coaches have found out what their pitching staff is capable of doing in a tournament atmosphere. Now, the Knights will look to cap the regular season with a chance to secure the top seed.
Then, Lembo will turn his attention to the final goal.
“I think that our guys are starting to play with confidence defensively,” he said. “Now, we have to put the offense and defense together. We’re doing a good job.”
On Monday, May 19, the Knights began the five-game stretch under the lights at Fontana Field. Hall capitalized on a lead-off walk in the second inning to push a runner into scoring position. They reached first base in the fourth with a hit batsman and in the sixth innings with another, but that’s as far as they would get.
Joe Rivera needed just 90 pitches to shut down the Warriors. He struck out 10 batters, walked two, but scored his fifth win of the season with a 6-0 no-hitter.
“We made some nice defensive plays, so I don’t think that Joe felt like he needed to strike everybody out,” said Lembo. “I think he was able to relax and throw because he felt so good about his defense. He was dominant. Everything was working, and he kept his pitch count down.”
Rivera helped his own cause, going 1-for-3 with an RBI. He was standing on first base when Liam Scafariello (2-for-3) opened the scoring with a two-run homerun in the bottom of the first ining. The Knights added three scores in the fourth and another one in the seventh as they cruised to a 6-0 win.
It was the offense the following day as Blue Knight batters combined for nine runs on 11 hits to score a 9-2 victory in Farmington. Zac Susi went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI and two runs scored. Adam Wilson (2-for-4) accounted for two runs.
Southington opened a 2-1 lead in the first inning and put the game out of reach with a four-run rally in the fourth. The Knights added three runs in their final at bat to secure the season sweep.
On the mound, Austin Bumbera allowed just three hits in six innings with four walks and two strikeouts. Joe Daigle capped the game with an inning of scoreless relief.
Cole scores sweep
For the second time this season, Kyle Cole took the mound against Simsbury. For the second time this season, it resulted in a complete game victory.
On May 2, Cole pitched outlasted five Trojan pitchers to secure a 7-0 shutout. On Wednesday, May 21, Cole (5-2) went six scoreless innings before finally letting up a Simsbury run. Cole struck out seven batters over seven innings to secure a 3-1 win.
“He really beared down when he needed to,” said Lembo. “It started to get really exciting for their side in the sixth and seventh innings, but he fought through. We made a couple of errors on some balls that we should have been able to field, but Joe Daigle made a great play on one ball and the double play ended it. That’s a pitcher’s best friend.”
Southington never trailed. Nick Calabrese led off the third inning with a walk and came around to score on one of two Simsbury errors. Scafariello and Brett Shaw scored in a two-run rally in the fourth inning, but Southington managed just four hits in the contest.
Loss ends streak
Scafariello drove the ball to deep left field to score Susi (2-for-3) in the first inning, but that’s all the offense that Southington could muster.
Southington batters combined for five hits. Drew Farkas held Newington to just six, but the Indians rallied for four unanswered runs to take a 4-1 lead when the rains came.
Officials stopped the game after it was official, and Southington’s 11-game winning streak came to an end on Friday, May 23.
The Knights had not lost in over a month. The streak began on April 23 with a 7-1 win over Farmington. Southington was 3-2 at the start of the streak but have transformed into one of the top ranked teams in Class LL.
Clinching the CCC
Southington wasted no time on Saturday, May 24. Scafariello (2-for-3) scored Rivera with a first inning double. Ryan DeAngelo followed with a two-out single to score Scafariello.
Scafariello, Daigle, and Josh Makles scored runs in the third and fourth innings as the Knights clinched sole possession of the CCC West title with a 5-2 win over New Britain.
On the mound, Rivera (6-0) earned his sixth victory, striking out eight batters and allowing just four hits over seven innings to get the win. With the victory, the Knights improved to 15-3 and are currently ranked third in the Class L standings behind Fairfield Prep (17-3) and Staples (17-3).
The Knights have a chance to close the gap with games this week against New Britain (9-8) and East Catholic (13-5).
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.