Pictured: Coginchaug had many celebratory moments in its blowout win over Holy Cross in the Class S quarterfinals on Saturday. (Photo by Tammy Clancy)
By Marc Silvestrini
DURHAM — Coginchaug coach Mark Basil shared an unusual thought Saturday in the wake of his team’s 17-3 thrashing of Holy Cross of Waterbury in the quarterfinal round of the CIAC Class S tournament.
After praising his team’s attitude and work ethic, Basil gave a shout out to Haddam-Killingworth, Cromwell, North Branford, Valley Regional, Morgan, Old Lyme, East Hampton and Hale Ray, all fellow Shoreline Conference schools that made this year’s Class M or S baseball tournaments.
“We’re very proud to be representing this conference and we’re very proud of the way all the teams in our league played in the tournament this year,” he said. “Our teams played everybody tough, they all gave a great effort. I think that really speaks to the level of play in our conference.
“I know it gives us just a little extra confidence knowing that we came out of a very good league with a lot of good baseball programs.”
Saturday’s win propels the third-seeded Devils into the semifinals on Tuesday against Northwest Catholic, the 23rd seed, at Sage Park in Berlin (4pm) for the right to play in the Class S championship game.
While the Blue Devils’ pitching and defense were solid Saturday, the real story revolved around the taem’s offense, which scored at least two runs in every inning but the fifth, amassed 17 hits, including two long home runs, and collected eight walks.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty good in practice lately so I’m not surprised we hit well today,” said junior shortstop Conner Willett, who had four hits, scored four runs and was brought to the mound to record the final two outs of the game. “We’re a confident team right now. All the guys know we can get this done. Everybody on the team is contributing.”
No. 11 seed Holy Cross began the game on a high note, stringing together three straight hits against Blue Devils ace Kolby Pascarelli to plate a run after Pascarelli had retired the first two batters of the game.
But Coginchaug answered right back, scoring four runs off Crusader starter Logan Bessette in the bottom of the first and two more in the second to take a 6-1 lead.
Owen Clancy singled home the tying run for the Devils in the last of the first and scored on Pascarelli’s long triple to the right-field corner. Jack Konopka then singled home both Pascarelli and Jeremy Mangiameli, who had walked, to stake the Devils to a 4-1 lead.
The two runs in the second came on a Willett single leading off the inning and Pascarelli’s towering 325-foot, two-run blast over the fence in right.
Holy Cross came right back to score two more off Pascarelli in the third on a two-out, two-run double by catcher Tom Galusha, but the Devils got those runs back in the bottom of the frame, making it 8-3 through three full.
Alex Mach took over for Pascarelli in the top of the fourth and proceeded to shut the Crusaders down on two hits and a walk over the next 3 1/3 innings before giving way to Willett with one gone in the seventh.
Pascarelli allowed eight hits and three earned runs in his three innings of work, fanning five and walking no one.
Meanwhile, the Devils’ offense ended any thought of a miracle Crusader comeback by scoring four more runs in the fourth and five in the sixth.
Aside from Willett, two other Devils had three hits on the day, Clancy and Evan Faiella. Faiella’s hits included a long sixth-inning blast over the scoreboard in left field. Pascarelli and Konopka each had a pair of hits and three ribbies, while Clancy and Faiella each had a pair of RBIs.
Five Crusaders had two hits apiece to pace the visitors’ 10-hit attack: Galusha, Pat Giancarli, Zach Laferriere, Andreas Effes and Zak Morales.
“We put a couple of hits together against their ace early in the game, but we had trouble getting guys on base ahead of those hits, so we didn’t score as many runs as we would have liked,” Cross coach Matt Smolley said.
“But give Coginchaug all the credit. They just hit the ball real well. They were the better team today.”
Since neither Pascarelli, Mach nor Willett threw 75 pitches on Saturday, all three will require only two days rest and any of them could come back and pitch in the semifinal against Northwest Catholic, Basil said.
Had any of the three exceeded the 75-pitch limit, a third day of rest would have been required, thus eliminating their participation in Tuesday’s game, at least as a pitcher.
HC 102 000 0–3 10 2
Cog 422 405 x–17 17 1
Batteries: HC: Bessette, Rosko (3), Laferriere (5), Ash (6) and Galusha; Cog–Pascarelli, Mach (4), Willett (7) and Garofalo. WP: Pascarelli; LP: Bessette. 2B: HC–Galusha. 3B: Cog–Pascarelli. HR: Cog–Pascarelli, Faiella. Records: Holy Cross 15-7; Coginchaug 20-3.