By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington hopes to get some momentum back after an up-and-down week where it went 2-2.
The week began with an 8-0 win at Guilford, then there was a tight 3-2 victory at home against East Haddam.
Southington’s momentum was stopped cold by Cheshire, as Zone 3’s top team swept both games of a Saturday doubleheader by scores of 6-3 and 5-0.
“It’s tricky. The hitting really came around in the [Guilford] game,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said. “We’ve been kind of riding a rollercoaster these last few games. We’re either blowing people out, or we’re losing close games.”
It’s the tight games where Southington needs to improve.
“These close games, somebody’s got to step up and make a play,” Verderame said.
Southington was 11-5 entering Monday night’s game against East Haddam, and it sat in second place, three games behind Cheshire (13-1).
Win at Guilford
JUNE 26—The Southington bats erupted for eight runs on 12 hits in the 8-0 road victory on June 26. Dylan Chiaro had three hits, including a double, and drove in two runs. Jeremy Mercier doubled, singled and drove in four runs while Kyle Cooney added an RBI double. Danny Topper and Ryan Henderson scored two runs apiece.
Southington scored a run in the top of the first, then erupted for five more in the third. Two more runs in the sixth completed the scoring.
“I was very proud of the guys for the way they came out,” Verderame said. “The pitching was dominant as usual.”
On the mound, Mercier allowed a pair of singles, struck out two and walked just one over six innings of work. Jake Weed tossed a scoreless seventh that included a strikeout and a single.
Win vs. East Haddam
JUNE 27—Southington jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, then squeaked out a 3-2 victory at home on June 27. Post 72 scored all three of their runs in the first inning, starting with an RBI double from Mercier. Andrew Owsianko blasted an RBI triple, then scored on a wild pitch.
East Haddam scored a run in the fourth and one in the fifth to cut Southington’s advantage to 3-2. To make things even more interesting, the visitors got their first two batters on base in the top of the seventh inning on an error and a single.
“I talked to Justin Verrilli, and I said hey, this is your game,” Verderame said. “He gave me a little head nod and we got out of it. We got lucky.”
Verrilli induced a flyout to center for the first out, then recorded a called third strike for the second out. A fielder’s choice ended the game, and Southington survived, but barely against a two-win team despite Verilli’s complete game.
“You can’t take anything for granted in this [zone],” Verderame said.
Swept by Cheshire
JUNE 30—Southington fell behind early in both games and couldn’t catch up. Cheshire scored two runs in the bottom of the second of the first game, then added a run in the third, two in the fourth and one in the sixth to go up 6-0. In the second game, Cheshire struck for a pair of runs in the first, then added single runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings to lead 5-0.
Southington did put up a strong comeback attempt in the top of the seventh inning of the first game, a 6-3 loss. Jake Romano singled to lead off, then reached second on an error off a ball hit by Aneesh Avancha. A walk to Andrew Owsianko loaded the bases, and another to Tyler Cyr brought in the first run. Danny Topper and Ryan Henderson followed with back-to-back RBI singles to make the score 6-3.
Southington still had the bases loaded with just one out, but a strikeout and lineout to second short-circuited the comeback.
“We tried to make a run, but came up a little short,” Verderame said.
Cheshire starter Ben Shadeck held Southington to just a Connor Patenaude single in the top of the fifth of the second game, which ended 5-0.
“They’re a well-oiled machine, they’re not going to beat themselves,” Verderame said of Cheshire.
With Cheshire in the driver’s seat atop Zone 3, Southington’s focus is making the postseason and getting on a run. Verderame can see a postseason run in his team.
“With the pitching, we have six guys, and we’re deep,” Verderame said. “But we have to keep going and keep executing.”
Any kind of a run will involve tough games against competition like Cheshire. That’s where making the plays will count the most.
“When we execute, we’re pretty tough to beat,” Verderame said.
Southington is scheduled for five games this week, with two apiece against Madison (4-9) and Wallingford (8-9). Southington also has a game against East Haddam (2-14) on Monday night at Southington High School. The East Haddam game is the only time Southington will be home this week.
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.