Pictured: Kolby Pascarelli is met by his Coginchaug teammates including Jack Konopka (3) after the final out — his 16th strikeout of the game — in Monday’s 9-2 win at Haddam-Killingworth.
By Paul Augeri
HIGGANUM – There was a reason Kolby Pascarelli put a little extra into his pitches Monday. It had to do with the name on the back of his left cleat, printed in marker, of 21-year-old Michael Doyle.
“He was my best friend’s older brother,” Coginchaug’s left-handed ace. “He died in February and I definitely felt him out there today. I have two sisters. He was the closest thing to an older brother to me. Big Mike would want me to be screaming out there and having fun. I dedicated my game to him today.”
Pascarelli’s mission – to pitch as well as he could for as long as he could against a Haddam-Killingworth team that was tied with the Blue Devils atop the Shoreline Conference standings – was accomplished. He struck out 16 batters, believed to be a school record, in Coginchaug’s 9-2 victory over the Cougars.
“Wow! WOW! What a pitching performance!” Coginchaug coach Mark Basil told his team when they gathered after the game. The win thrust the Blue Devils into first place alone at 7-1, ahead of H-K (6-2), Hale-Ray (6-2), North Branford (5-2) and Valley Regional (5-2).
Basil continued to praise the UConn-bound Pascarelli as he readied to board the team’s bus.
“What else do you say?” Basil said. “He threw his curve at any pitch in the count for strikes. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from a high school kid.”
Pascarelli threw 109 pitches, one short of the high school-mandated max for an outing. He started the seventh at a count of 99 and struck out three H-K pinch hitters on 10 pitches to end it. His curve was just about unhittable. He caught six batters looking at strike three.
“The last time we talked, it was about him holding back (in Coginchaug’s first game of the season),” Basil said. “He let it go today. This was a game he was building up to.”
Pascarelli allowed one earned run on three hits and walked one in his third win of the season.
“He mixes well and has an above-average fastball and a good breaking pitch. He’s going to win a lot of games,” said H-K coach Mark Brookes.
The top of Coginchaug’s order – Connor Willett, Pascarelli, Owen Clancy and Jeremy Mangiameli – was outstanding in a combined effort of 9 for 14 with eight runs scored and 7 RBIs.
Mangiameli had his best game of the season — 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs. Pascarelli had two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored and leadoff man Willett was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
“Jeremy has been waiting to have a game like this,” Basil said. He crushed the ball today.”
Said Mangiameli: “The ball was like a balloon. It was right there for me today (motioning to his waist), right where I wanted it. I’ve been working really hard on my swing and keeping my right hand from rolling over, keeping it flat.”
In the lead-up to Monday, Pascarelli said the game was about making a “statement.” That might have to do with the rivalry. More often than not, H-K and Coginchaug are two of the top teams in the Shoreline year to year. Or his thinking could have come out of the disgust he still feels about the team’s loss to Cromwell.
“Stupid plays, stupid mistakes in that one,” he said. “We should have won that game.”
Mangiameli was on the same page with Pascarelli on Monday.
“This was more than a win for us. It was right down to the heart,” he said. “It was literally about making a statement.”
Alec Erskine (leadoff single in the first), Nick Glynn (double in the second) and Luke DiMauro (infield hit in the fifth) has the Cougars’ hits.
Coginchaug took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against H-K starter Matt Miranda. Pascarelli rocked an opposite-field double to left that appeared to have enough distance to go out, but the wind knocked it down in front of H-K’s Rocco Nappi.
Pascarelli, who had five strikeouts through two innings, was given a bigger cushion in the third when the Blue Devils touched Miranda for four runs. Pascarelli doubled home Willett from first after the latter led off with a bad-hop single to the left side of the infield. After Clancy walked, Mangiameli’s single to the right-center gap scored Pascarelli and Clancy. Mangiameli eventually scored on an infield error.
The Devils knocked Miranda out of the game in the fourth after Jack Konopka reached on a throwing error and Willett doubled down the left-field line. Pascarelli’s towering sac fly to center off reliever Lucas Kamoen scored Konopka, and Mangiameli later drove in Willett with his second double of the game.
“The top of their lineup was very good today,” said Brookes. “I had a lot of confidence in Matt to mix it and keep them off-balance, and he doesn’t back down. He’s a tough kid who wants to compete. But the top of their lineup is pretty good and puts the ball in play.”
H-K got two runs back in the fifth. Pascarelli grazed Glynn with a pitch and walked Ryan Kallenbach to start the inning. After Matt Pray struck out, Erskine followed with a bouncer to Mangiameli at third. Instead of going to first for the out, Mangiameli tried to catch Glynn off second and instead threw the ball into right field, scoring Glynn.
After Pascarelli fanned Callen Powers for the second out, DiMauro fisted a wind-blown blooper that landed on the infield grass, scoring H-K’s second run.
Coginchaug tacked on two two-out runs in the sixth courtesy of RBI doubles by Clancy and Mangiameli.
Pascarelli worked a quick sixth (two put-outs at first by Alex Tawa and an inning-ending strikeout) and mowed his way through the final three outs.
“H-K deserves a lot of credit. I felt their presence in the box today,” said Pascarelli.
Miranda went three-plus in the loss, allowing seven runs (five earned) on eight hits, with one walk and four strikeouts.
Brookes, who is three shy of career victory No. 700, quickly turned his attention to the opponents his team finishes the week against – Westbrook at home and Portland on the road.
“Let’s try to win two on Wednesday and Friday,” he said. “They’re league games and now they become games we need to win.”
Coginchaug has three tough opponents ahead in the next week: Morgan on the road Wednesday; North Branford at home on Thursday and Valley Regional at home next Monday.
Cog 104 202 0–9 11 1
HK 000 020 0–2 3 2
Batteries: Cog–Kolby Pascarelli and Mike Garofalo; HK–Matt Miranda, Lucas Kamoen (3), Andrew Conti (6) and Nick Glynn. WP: Pascarelli; LP: Miranda. 2B: Cog–Mangiameli (2), Pascarelli (2), Willett, Clancy; HK–Glynn. LOB: Cog–5; HK–5.