By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Knights baseball team (10-2) qualified for the postseason this past week with three wins and a loss. With just over two weeks remaining in the season, Southington is within striking distance of home field advantage throughout the postseason.
Southington opened the week up with their only road game of the week as well as their closest game of the week and season with a 14-13 over the Maloney Spartans (5-8), qualifying for the state tournament by doing so.
The Knights landed the first punch with two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Spartans answered back with four in the bottom of the inning. The Spartans built an 8-4 lead in the top of the fifth, but Southington scored seven times in the fifth inning and held off a late Spartan rally to win, 14-13.
Brett Shaw went 3-for-3 with two RBI and five scored runs, including a triple and double. Zac Susi went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored, including a double.
Four different pitchers pitched on the mound for the Knights. Cameron Fahey (doubled), Mike Charest (home run), and Angelo Palumbo (doubled) each batted in three RBI for the Spartans. The Knights and Spartans combined for 28 hits, both with 14.
“I thought each team did a good job responding when they got behind. It wasn’t your classic best-played high school baseball game,” said Southington coach Charlie Lembo. “I thought our guys did a good job coming back and everyone contributed. That was a wild back-and-forth game and we haven’t had too many of those this year, it was nice to see how the guys responded when they got behind.”
The Knights returned home two days later to host the New Britain Golden Hurricanes (8-5) in a 7-0 win.
Shaw went 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run. Susi, Ryan DeAngelo (doubled), Alex Gorr, and Adam Wilson all had a RBI. Liam Scafariello had a double.
Farkas picked up the win, pitching a complete game and a shutout on the mound for the Knights. Farkas threw five strikeouts against 25 batters, allowing just four hits and a walk.
Jakari Pellegni, Alex Silva, William Homar, and Lewis Robinson had the only hits for the Hurricanes.
“We played a solid game, we really did,” the coach said. “Defensively, I thought we played solid. We made the plays. Our outfield play was pretty good. We tracked down some balls that were hit pretty well and Drew pitched a great game. Drew kept pounding strikes and his pitch count was pretty low. We made the plays and came up with some timely hits.”
The Knights capped the week against the Conard Chieftains (3-10) in the Knights’ first night home game of the season. The Knights won the first meeting on the road back in April by a score of 7-2 and completed the season sweep with a 13-7 victory.
Shaw went 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs. Gugliotti went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs, including three doubles. Susi went 2-for-4 with 4 RBI and a run, including a double. Jon Gray had 2 RBI and Gorr had one. Gray, Gorr, and Justin Makles each had a double and were also part of the seven total doubles the Knights recorded.
Austin Bumbera was credited with the win with five strikeouts and three walks in 5.3 innings. Shaw closed out the game with one strikeout and one walk in the final inning.
Brunoli came in to close out the game in the top of the seventh. Conard saw a chance for a possible comeback, but Brunoli shut the door on the opportunity and threw one strikeout, allowing five hits and 2 earned runs.
Alex White led the Chieftains with a double and two RBI.
“The kids did a great job. Garret Gugliotti hit well with three doubles and Austin Bumbera was throwing a really good game,” said Lembo. “Sometimes when the score gets a little elevated like that, pitchers go away from some of their others pitches and start throwing fastballs for strikes. It’s tough to be a pitcher in those situations because you know you’re going to give up some hits. You’re trying not to walk people at that point, but I thought Austin did a really nice job.”
The Knights lost their first weekend game of the season on Saturday against the Greenwich Cardinals (7-7), 8-7, but it would come down to the very last inning.
Greenwich drew blood first with a run in the top of the second, but Southington took a 7-2 lead into the final inning.
In the top of the seventh, however, the Cardinals would answer with a six-run rally off five hits to regain the lead and give the Knights their second loss on the year.
Susi and Wilson both went 2-for-3 with a RBI and run, both with a double. Kyle DeAngelo’s only hit came off of a triple that scored three runs. Vega started the game for the Knights on the mound and threw three strikeouts in 5.7 innings.
Kevin Woodring led the Cardinals with two hits and three RBI, including two doubles.
“You have to play all 21 outs, and we didn’t. We got a lead, thought it was enough, and it wasn’t,” said Lembo. “I thought Chris Vega did a good job. I give Greenwich all the credit. They came through with a couple doubles in a row, but we had a chance to end the game and get out of there. It’s baseball, you have to make the plays.”
The next goal for Lembo and the Knights is to win the CCC West. The Knights currently sit a half of a game back from Simsbury (11-2) in second place in the division and 2.5 games ahead of New Britain. The Knights look to recover from the loss this week with a conference game against the Hall Warriors (6-8) in West Hartford.