By John Goralski
Zac Susi fouled off four pitching before driving the next one into the gap between the shortstop and third baseman. Josh Makles came around to score. Pinch runner Mike Taylor scored from second base, and the Knights exploded from the dugout to celebrate the win.
Southington rallied back from an early deficit to take the lead in the fourth inning. The team loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings after they surrendered the lead again.
On paper the game meant nothing for postseason seeding, but for Coach Charlie Lembo, the hard-fought victory was just what the doctor ordered as the Knights prepare for their annual postseason rally.
“As a coach, you hope that your players have seen some adversity,” he said. “It’s good to see your kids in a lot of different situations so that you can go over it in the dugout and come up with a game plan. Now, they have something to draw from emotionally. They’ve been in this situation, and they came up big.”
Southington had already secured the No. 3 seed in the postseason with a 13-1 win over New Britain in the opening game of the double header.
Ryan DeAngelo (2 runs, 2 RBI) went 4-for-5 set the pace. Liam Scafariello (3-for-4) finished with a home run and two doubles.
New Britain opened the game with a 1-0 lead, but the Knights answered with a 6-1 lead after three innings and put the game out of reach with a six-run rally in the fifth.
Kyle Cole scattered three hits and four walks over seven innings to get the win, and the victory clinched third place in the Class LL rankings. Southington (17-3) moved into a three way tie with Fairfield Prep and Staples after the second game, but tie breakers had already set Southington’s final seed.
“Right now, it’s hard to put it in perspective after playing five games in six days with a double header today,” said Lembo. “To be honest, after replacing eight or nine starters from last year’s team, I don’t think many people gave us a shot…We’re not done yet.”
In the final game, Southington struggled to get and hold the lead. Joe Rivera, DeAngelo, Brett Shaw, and Susi collected multiple hits, but Southington fell behind 3-0 before taking their first lead with a four-run rally in the fourth.
East Catholic regained the lead with three runs in the top of fifth, and that set up the dramatic finish.
“This game didn’t start off well. It was a double header after scoring a lot of runs, and that’s always a kiss of death for the second game,” said Lembo. “But we battled back. We didn’t play our normal defensive game, but I give Drew Farkas a lot of credit for coming in and throwing gas.”
With the No. 3 seed, the Knights earned a first round bye. the Knights will open the postseason against West Haven (12-9) on Tuesday.
By John Goralski