By BRIAN JENNINGS
As batting continues its erratic pattern at the plate for the Blue Knight baseball team, one area of the field has been solid all season long: the mound.
This is the first time Southington coach, Charlie Lembo, has used four starting pitchers in the rotation in his tenure at Southington, and those four pitchers could be responsible for a deep run in the postseason as the Knights end the regular season with a CCC Central Blue divisional title and top-ten seed in the Class LL tournament.
Connor McDonough, John Mikosz, Bailey Robarge, and Ryan Sheehan have made it a living nightmare for opposing batters this season. It very well could get worse for new batters they face in the state tournament.
“It’s because of the way they’ve thrown,” said Lembo. “When we play defense behind these guys, they’re a formidable pitching staff. But it’s not just the four starters, it’s all the guys we put in. It’s been fun to watch them all throw.”
Pitching is definitely a strength that will help the Knights in the state tournament, but you can’t forget about the other component that goes along with pitching. That’s defense.
“A pitcher could be pitching a great game, but you have to have your defense behind you playing well to get the routine outs that should be made,” the coach said. “That affects the pitcher and how many pitches he has to throw.”
Southington finished the regular season at 15-5 overall (7-3 home, 8-2 away), winning the CCC Central Blue title with a 10-1 regional record and 4-0 divisional record. Southington also tied NW Catholic (15-5) for the best record in the CCC Central region. Hall (13-7, 5-5) and Simsbury (9-10, 5-5) finished as the CCC Central Blue co-runner-ups.
The Knights will enter the first round of the state tournament as the ninth seed and are scheduled to host No. 24 West Haven (10-10) on Tuesday, May 30. Game time is 3:30 p.m. Amity (18-2) is the top seed, as well as the defending champion.
Win at NW Catholic
MAY 22—The Knights clinched the divisional title with a 4-1 victory at NW Catholic on Monday. The game was called after five innings, due to rain.
Brandon Kohl gave the Knights a 1-0 lead by scoring on an error in the first inning. A couple batters later, Jake Babon extended the lead by driving in Ryan McIntyre with a base hit.
McIntyre put the Knights up 3-0 with an RBI double that scored Jonathan Gray in the third. Jeremy Mercier capped off the win by bringing in Matt Sciota with the bases loaded after drawing a walk later in the inning.
Southington finished with three hits and two errors. Robarge (3-0) threw a complete game with three strikeouts, allowing just two hits.
Win vs. Avon
MAY 23—The next day, the Knights recorded their sixth shutout of the season by blanking Avon, 6-0, at home. After three scoreless innings, Southington posted five runs in the fourth inning off a pair of doubles, a home run, and a base hit, adding a run in the fifth for insurance.
The Knights finished with seven hits and two errors. Tyler Cyr’s lone hit of the game went for a two-run home run.
Mikosz (7-0) started on the mound and went six innings with nine strikeouts, allowing five hits and two walks. Sheehan (3-3) closed.
Win at Bulkeley-Weaver
MAY 24—The Knights closed out the regular season on Wednesday by earning their fifth-straight win with a 7-1 victory over Bulkeley-Weaver at Colt Park in Hartford.
The Knights held a one-run advantage, 2-1, after the third inning, but were able to break the game open with five runs off five hits in the seventh. Southington finished with 10 hits.
McIntyre went 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of RBIs, a run scored, and a double. Mercier went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Dillon Chiaro went 2-for-3 with a walk.
McDonough (2-1) threw a complete game on the mound with 10 strikeouts, allowing four hits, four walks, and an earned run.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/30/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.