Pictured: East Hampton coach Tom Seidl gathers the Bellringers after Tuesday’s win at Cromwell. East Hampton had 13 hits, but Seidl wants to see better defense and pitching from his team.
By Marc Silvestrini
CROMWELL — Tuesday’s 14-11 East Hampton victory over Cromwell was a baseball drama that unfurled in three distinct acts.
In the first act, East Hampton stormed out to a 7-1 lead after three-and-a-half innings of play in what looked for all the world to be an easy Shoreline Conference win for the Bellringers.
In the second act, Cromwell roared back by scoring three in the bottom of the third and four in the fourth to take an 8-7 lead over what looked for all the world to be a disheartened East Hampton team.
In the third act, which began in the top of the sixth, the gritty Bellringers did a little storming back of their own, scoring four in the sixth and three in the seventh to seal the win, their second to start the 2021 season.
But not before the Panthers rallied back one last time to provide the game with a little extra excitement.
Trailing 14-9 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Panthers’ Elias DeLeon led off by cranking a rising line drive that carried over the center-field fence at its deepest point, slicing the deficit to 14-10.
Following a base hit by Justin Valentin and a Bellringer error, Ian McMillan singled home Valentin to make it 14-11, bringing the tying run to the plate with one out.
East Hampton reliever Luke Paluska then plunked Cromwell’s Tysen Billings, loading the bases and bringing the winning run to the plate, before bearing down and retiring the final two Cromwell batters.
“These kids work very hard and all that work paid off for us today,” East Hampton coach Tom Seidl said. “We could have folded and gone home when they bounced back at us, so I’m proud of the way we hung in there and fought back.”
“We’re glad to be 2-0 but our pitching and defense still aren’t there yet,” he added. “We’re getting some good at-bats up and down the lineup, but we need to get better on defense and on the mound.”
Seidl did get three strong innings from his starter, James Quinn, a sophomore left-hander. But Quinn, who had been staked to a 7-1 lead, faded in the fourth, surrendering three runs on two hits and two walks.
He was relieved by Paluska, who picked up the win despite giving up four runs in the last of the fifth to surrender the lead.
Quinn allowed three hits in his four innings of work, fanning nine, walking three and hitting three Cromwell batters. Paluska, who kept getting into trouble but also kept finding ways to limit the damage, yielded eight hits in three innings of work, fanned three, walked one and plunked two more Panther batters.
Senior Dan Rossberg was the starter for Cromwell, giving up seven hits and striking out six in 3 2/3 innings. Sophomore Brandon Berean, who was brilliant in relief in Saturday’s opener against Haddam-Killingworth, was not quite as sharp on Tuesday, surrendering six hits and walking five in 2 1/3 innings.
“I think he just ran out of gas,” Cromwell coach Christian Budzik said of Berean.
Tyler Szrejna got the final three outs for the Panthers.
Left fielder Colby Camp, Quinn and first baseman Dan Cascio led the 13-hit Bellringer attack. Camp had three singles and knocked in four runs, Quinn had three hits and scored four runs while Cascio blasted a pair of long doubles, scored three runs and had four RBIs.
“I felt really good, really relaxed at the plate,” Cascio said. “Everyone on this team is swinging the bat pretty well right now. It’s a lot easier for me to get up there and take my swings because I know the guys behind me will get the job done, even if I don’t.”
Darren Way added a pair of hits and a RBI to the East Hampton offense, while Javier Diaz scored four runs after getting on base with three walks and a fielder’s choice.
Four Panthers had two hits in the game, led by DeLeon with a bases-loaded double to key Cromwell’s four-run fifth in addition to his long home run. All told, DeLeon scored three runs and knocked in five.
Valentin had two hits and a ribbie for the Panthers while Zack Zajack and Brian Radziewicz each had a pair of hits.
“Our bats woke up a little bit today, we scored a lot of runs and did some good things offensively,” Budzik said. “But we also struck out 12 times and it’s awful tough to win games when you do that.”
Budzik also noted that his team had fallen behind early again for the second game in a row before clawing its way back to make it competitive.
“That’s two games in a row that we didn’t show up ready to play in the first couple of innings,” he said. “We did a good job fighting our way back in both games, but you just can’t keep playing from behind all the time.
“We have to learn to play a complete game from beginning to end.”
Cromwell, 0-2 on the young season, will get a chance at a complete effort Wednesday when the Panthers travel to Morgan for a 10:30 a.m. game. East Hampton travels to North Branford on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. start.
EH 202 304 3–14 13 6
CR 100 341 2–11 11 1
Pitchers: EH–Quinn, Paluska (5); C–Rossberg, Berean (4), Szrejna (7). WP–Paluska; LP–Berean. 2B: EH–Cascio (2), Quinn (2), Way, Bigelow; C-DeLeon. HR: C–DeLeon. Records: East Hampton 2-0; Cromwell 0-2.