By BRIAN JENNINGS
Five runs in the top of the second inning of the Class LL semifinal game put the No.7-seed Blue Knights’ (18-6) hopes of making a third-straight finals appearance out of reach.
No.14-seed Amity (18-7) defeated the Knights, 6-3, under the lights at Muzzy Field in Bristol on Wednesday night, June 10.
All the scoring came in the second and sixth innings. Four of Amity’s seven total hits came during a five-run rally in the second off of three singles, a double, a walk, and a sacrifice bunt. Amity’s only other run of the game wouldn’t come until the top of the sixth.
Amity started the second inning with a line drive double by Matt Ronai to center. Elias Oliphant knocked in Matt Ronai on a RBI single following a Devin Belenski walk. With one down, Colin Beaulieu scored Belenski on a sacrifice bunt from third.
Chris Winkel knocked in Oliphant on a RBI single and Beaulieu scored after Kyle Mattei’s 4-3 putout for the second out of the inning. Amity’s fifth run came from Mike Appel’s line drive single to right field, which scored Chris Winkel to put Amity up 5-0. Pat Winkel ended the inning with a 4-3 putout.
Adam Wilson gave the Knights their first run of the game in the bottom of the second after being walked to make it 5-1. Wilson scored from third after advancing from a walk and a 6-4 putout.
In the top of the sixth, Chris Winkel hit a solo homerun to put Amity up 6-1.
Wilson and Liam Scafariello started the sixth with a pair of singles. Scafariello’s single moved Wilson to third after advancing to second on a wild pitch wild pitch. John Mikosz hit into a fielder’s choice, leaving Wilson to be tagged out by the third baseman in a 5-2-5 rundown for the first out of the inning. Mike Taylor moved Scafariello to third and Mikosz to second on a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher for a 1-3 putout.
Garrett Gugliotti’s single would eventually score Scafariello from third and Mikosz from second on an errant throw to first made by the pitcher. Brett Shaw flew out to centerfield to end the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, a 4-6-3 double play and a 4-3 putout ended the game.
The Knights had an opportunity to add more runs in the bottom of the third, but left three runners on base.
Gugliotti went 2-for-3 with a walk and the Knights’ only RBI of the game. Zac Susi went 2-for-4. Drew Farkas pitched a complete game for the Knights and threw four strikeouts against 28 batters, allowing seven hits and six earned runs, and a walk.
“He was getting behind in the count and then he was coming belt high fastball because he was getting behind,” said Southington coach Charlie Lembo. “That’s what Amity capitalized on. They had some short swings and just got the ball into the outfield. They did a really good job of driving runs in when they had the opportunity.”
Doug Rives pitched a complete game for Amity and threw five strikeouts against 25 batters, allowing seven hits, six walks, and one earned run. Both the Southington (25 at-bats) and Amity (28 at-bats) accounted for seven hits.
“We had a couple plays that we could have made and we had our chances,” said Lembo. “We had some base running mistakes. We needed to hit with runners in scoring position. We had the bases loaded a couple times. We had our opportunities, but they’re a good team. I thought their pitcher did a great job when we did get those opportunities of making some big pitches. We didn’t swing the bats when we needed to. In games like this, when you get opportunities, you have to be able to drive runs in. I’ve been saying it all tournament.”
Although they came up a game short of the finals where they ended their past two seasons, Lembo thought it was still a great season for his Knights.
“We have seniors and I’m going to miss these guys,” the coach said. “Some of them have been around for four years with us. For some of them, they are the last family member who has had an older brother played with us and we’re not going to have those families around anymore. It’s sad. I thought they did a great job though. We had that little blip in the middle of the season and they overcame that. They came together and played hard. The last game of the year is always a tough game for me.”
Amity went on to claim their third-straight Class LL State Title after defeating No.4-seed Staples (20-5), 8-1, in the finals at Palmer Field in Middletown on Saturday.
Just moments after the Knights got off of the bus to play the semifinal game against Amity at Muzzy Field, Scafariello received news that he had been drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 38th round as the 1140 pick of the 2015 MLB Draft.
“I was getting phone calls throughout the day, but I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it,” said Scafariello. “I got a text from my advisor and he said, ‘Congratulations.’ I said, ‘For what? I thought it was over.’ Then I asked him, ‘Did I just get drafted by the Atlanta Braves?’ When he told me, I said, ‘That’s cool, I’ll call you after the game.’ I pretty much just focused on the moment. Two seconds later, I’m in the clubhouse getting ready to play a semifinal game. The emotions were going crazy, I guess.”
Scafariello said that he didn’t think he was going to play for the Atlanta Braves, rather committing to play for the Bristol Blues this summer and attending UConn to play for the Huskies in the fall.
“I wish him luck in whatever he decides,” said Lembo. “He still has his opportunity to play for the Braves or go to UConn and play. He’s a great kid. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to sit down with him and see what the opportunity is. We’ll have to weigh out the options; go to UConn or play professional baseball. Those aren’t bad options when you’re 17 years old.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.