By BRIAN JENNINGS
A pair of wins this past week helped the Blue Knight baseball team reach their first and foremost goal of the season: qualify as quickly as possible for the Class LL tournament. With goal number one out of the way, the Knights are now turning their attention to the CCC Central Blue title.
The Knights have been pretty steady throughout the first half of the season, outscoring their opponents, 78-31, with four shutouts in 11 games. But they’re not getting too ahead of themselves with about two full weeks of the regular season still left to play. They’re focusing on every day.
“Sometimes people look at the baseball season in its totality, but I look at it every day,” said Southington coach Charlie Lembo. “It’s not only the next game, but it’s the next practice. You hope to see your team get better every day as the season progresses.”
The Knights will continue their quest toward the state tournament this week with games against Bristol Eastern (7-5), Greenwich (5-9), East Catholic (10-3), and NFA (5-8). Southington is currently 8-3 overall. The Knights are currently ranked first (3-0) in the CCC Central Blue.
Loss vs. NW Catholic
MAY 1—Southington’s three-game winning streak was snapped after the Knights suffered their third loss of the season, falling, 7-1, to NW Catholic at home on Monday. The Lions posted five runs in the first inning with four hits (including a double) and three walks and capped off the win with a pair of runs in the sixth.
“We didn’t execute the way that we should have,” said Lembo. “That’s about it. There were too many errors with seven unearned runs.”
Brandon Kohl got on base with a double in the third and scored Southington’s lone run on a wild pitch. Jonathan Gray went 2-for-4 with a double at the plate, as the Knights mustered just five hits.
Ryan Sheehan (0-1) started on the mound and went three innings with a pair of strikeouts, allowing five hits and three walks. Connor McDonough relieved Sheehan to go two and two-thirds innings with two strikeouts, two hits, and two walks. Jake Weed closed.
Win vs. Glastonbury
MAY 3—A couple days later, the Knights redeemed themselves from Monday’s loss by recording their fourth shutout of the season with a 10-0 blanking of Glastonbury at home.
“Defensively, we were awake and focused,” said Lembo. “We made some nice defensive plays, and we came out and swung the bats a little. It was nice that we did bounce back after a disappointment on Monday.”
Southington scored four runs in the first inning and four in the third, capping off the win with a pair of scores in the fourth. The Knights finished the game with nine hits and no errors.
Jeremy Mercier went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored. Jake Babon went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, two RBIs, and a double.
Bailey Robarge threw a complete game shutout on the mound and registered six strikeouts in 79 pitches, allowing just one hit and one walk.
“Bailey just threw a gem,” the coach said. “He was pumping strikes, getting ahead, and was around the zone. Even when he missed, he was around the zone.”
Win at Conard
MAY 4—The Knights rounded out the week by clinching a playoff berth with their second-straight win after edging out Conard by a pair of runs, 6-4, on the road. Southington finished the game with eight hits and five errors.
“It was one of those days where it was kind of blustery and windy,” said Lembo. “There were a lot of fly balls that were drifting around a lot. We didn’t play a clean game and made a number of errors that led to extra bases and some runs.”
Gray (3-for-3) led the game off with a triple and put Southington on the board first by scoring on a wild pitch. Kohl was hit by a pitch, later coming around to give the Knights a 2-0 lead off Brayden Cooney’s sacrifice fly.
The Chieftains responded with three runs off an error, a fielder’s choice, and a base hit. Tyler Cyr tied the game after driving in Matt Sciota (2-for-4) on a fielder’s choice in the second, and John Mikosz put Southington up by a run, 4-3, with an RBI single that scored Gray.
The Chieftains tied the game with a run off an error in the fifth, but the Knights eventually pulled away with a pair of runs in the sixth. Cyr led the inning off by making it to first on an error and scored the go-ahead run on an error. A batter later, Gray drew a walk and was brought in for insurance on another sacrifice fly by Cooney.
“The kids buckled down and got two nice bunts down in that inning, putting pressure on their defense to make plays,” the coach. “We hit the ball hard and drove in some runs. We made some plays when we had to.”
McDonough threw a complete game with six strikeouts in 107 pitches, allowing eight hits, an earned run, and a walk.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/10/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-may-12-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.