By BRIAN JENNINGS
The bats were an uncertainty for the Blue Knight baseball team for most of the season, especially down the stretch. Sporadic hitting followed Southington into the postseason, and inconsistency at the plate eventually caught up to the club.
The Knights got past the first round of the Class LL tournament on the heels of 15 hits, but were shut out in the second round. Southington was held to just five hits in the loss.
“That’s what happens sometimes, but that’s the part you hate,” said Southington coach Charlie Lembo. “You get a bunch of hits one day, and then for some reason the next day, you’re not squaring it up.”
Second round elimination
MAY 31—Southington’s season came to an end after the ninth-seeded Knights were held scoreless, 4-0, by No. 25 Fairfield Ludlowe (12-10) at home in the second round of the state tournament on Wednesday, snapping their six-game winning streak.
The Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead after scoring a run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. A run in the sixth and two in the seventh with the help of base hits capped off the win for the Falcons.
Southington mustered just five hits and committed one error. The Knights stranded five runners on base, including a runner on third base in the fourth and fifth innings.
“We were chasing that one run and had some opportunities, but it seemed like those opportunities were all coming with two outs though,” said Lembo. “You had to get a base hit there, and we didn’t have a chance to get a sacrifice fly or fielder’s choice to score the run. We needed to start manufacturing earlier in the innings.”
Ryan McIntyre went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double. Ryan Sheehan (3-4) started on the mound and went five innings with seven strikeouts, allowing four hits, two earned runs, and a walk. Connor McDonough (2-1) closed with a pair of strikeouts, three hits, and two earned runs.
The Knights are losing 13 seniors to graduation after this season, which includes Jake Babon, Brayden Cooney, Dom Coppola, Tyler Cyr, Christian Gil, Jonathan Gray, McDonough, McIntyre, John Mikosz, Bailey Robarge, Matt Sciota, Kyle Semmel, and Sheehan.
“I love these guys,” said Lembo. “We’re going to miss the senior class. They’ve done everything we’ve asked as a coaching staff. They’ve worked hard, and every one of them are great kids.”
Fairfield Ludlowe was eventually eliminated by top-seeded Amity (21-2), 12-0, in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will feature Amity against No. 20 Danbury (14-9) and No. 7 Ridgefield (18-5) against No. 11 Staples (16-7).
Southington finished the season at 16-6 overall.
First round victory
MAY 30—The Knights advanced to the second round of the state tournament for the eighth-straight year a day earlier with a 7-5 victory over No. 24 West Haven (10-11) at home in the first round, earning their sixth-straight win.
Jeremy Mercier and Sciota (3-for-3) gave the Knights an early 2-0 lead by scoring Gray (4-for-4) and McIntyre on a pair of base hits in the first inning. The Blue Devils cut the deficit to a run off an RBI single in the fourth, but the Knights got the lead back to two after Brandon Kohl (2-for-3) brought Gray in on a base knock in the bottom of the inning.
The Blue Devils eventually took the a one-run lead, 4-3, off six-straight hits in the sixth, but the Knights answered back again with their own rally. Cyr led the inning off with a single that looped into the outfield.
Gray hit a ground ball to West Haven’s third baseman, but beat out the throw to first. Kohl loaded the bases after laying down a bunt down the third-base line that couldn’t be fielded.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Mercier hit into a double play, but tied the game by driving in Cyr and moving Gray over to third. McIntyre scored Gray for the go-ahead run on base hit, and Babon capped off the win by bringing in pinch runner, Coppola, with an RBI single.
The Blue Devils led off the seventh with a triple that eventually scored a run on a throw to first for the initial out of the inning. But closer, Robarge (4-0), had other plans. He ended the possibility of another rally by striking out the next batter and getting the final out of the game on a ground ball to third.
Mikosz (7-0) started on the mound and went five and two thirds innings with a pair of strikeouts, allowing 12 hits, three earned runs, and two walks. Southington finished with 15 hits and two errors.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/06/05/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-9-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.