Pictured: Post 75’s Alex Mach allowed just two hits, walked three and struck out 10 in Monday’s Zone 3 win over East Hartford/Manchester. (Paul Augeri photo)
By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN – Alex Mach gave another Alex Mach-like performance Monday night, pitching a two-hitter and striking out 10 to lead Middletown Post 75 to a 6-1 victory over East Hartford/Manchester at Palmer Field.
The right-hander, who was undefeated for Coginchaug during its Class S championship season and will go on to pitch at UConn-Avery Point, went the distance in the Zone 3 game. He missed a lot of bats with a fastball/hard slider combination, yielding a double in the second, a one-out single in the seventh and a lot of weak contact in between.
“That’s what Alex Mach does and what he’s done for this program the last four years,” Post 75 coach Dan Botti said. “People are finally starting to notice it. His performance tonight is what we’ll expect out of him every time out, and I don’t think that’s asking too much.”
Instead of one star at the plate, Middletown’s seven hits and various other contributions were spread up and down the lineup as the 75ers, at 5-3 in Zone 3, remained among the top four in the standings.
“It was a good team day today,” Botti said. “We hit the ball hard and had some good bats and brought a lot of energy, which has been lacking. We were making things happen.”
EHM fell to 4-6 overall and in zone play.
The 75ers staked Mach to a first-inning lead. Kolby Pascarelli led off with a walk, advanced to third on Mike Garofalo’s hard-hit double off the glove of center fielder Darrion Williams and scored on Ryan Michaud’s fly to right.
Mach, who had retired EHM in order in the first, briefly lost his feel for his pitches in the second, which he attributed to not bringing the resin bag with him to the mound, and it allowed the visitors to tie the game.
Brett Schofield walked and Jamiel Cortes was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Schofield tried advancing to third on a pitch in the dirt, but an alert Garofalo threw him out on a close call. Mach got a fly ball for the second out before Tyler Barry turned on a fastball and drove it into the left-field corner for an RBI double. Mach induced another fly to get out of the inning.
Botti said Mach’s fastball was probably in the mid-80s. And yet …
“I didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” Mach said. “In the second, without the resin bag I had sweat going all over my hand, so I didn’t have a grip on many pitches. I’ve definitely had better days, but for the most part I was on tonight.”
Middletown and other state American Legion teams descended on UConn over the weekend for a clinic hosted by the Huskies. It gave Botti the opportunity to spend time with pitching coach Josh MacDonald talking baseball and talking up Mach, who pitched two innings in front of the UConn staff.
Botti believes Mach can use Avery Point as a stepping stone to UConn or another Division I program.
“I was letting them know that Alex has had a hell of a year,” Botti said. “If he works his ass off at Avery Point and puts up numbers, he’s definitely got a shot. Guys go from Avery Point to UConn all the time. I played at Avery Point. My roommate played at Avery Point and went on to UConn. It’s something I tell Alex, that should be (his) goal, to go from Avery Point and play for coach (Jim) Penders at UConn. It’s not impossible.”
Mach only played one season of varsity baseball at Coginchaug. He started out as a student at Xavier, enrolled at Coginchaug but lost his junior season to the pandemic. This spring he was 5-0 with a 0.43 ERA for the Blue Devils – and he’s still improving with Post 75.
“His velocity keeps jumping,” Botti said. “Last fall he was topping 80. Last Friday we had him at 87. He’s a late bloomer for sure and that’s why he’s going to Avery Point. Avery Point is for late bloomers.
“He was probably mid-80s tonight. He’s got a hard slider that looks just like his fastball and zips right out of (the zone). He’s really tough to hit. I wouldn’t want to stand in there with him.”
The 75ers gave Mach the lead for good with a single run – it could have been much more — in their half of the second inning.
EHM starter Joey Magnano loaded the bases on a Hugh Barrett single and walks to Ryan Quinn and Jack Konopka, with Barrett scoring on a passed ball. After getting the second out on a pop-up, Magnano loaded the bases again with a walk to Garofalo before striking out Ryan Michaud with the bases full for the third out.
The 75ers scored twice in the third. Owen Clancy’s drive into the gap in left-center reached the warning track for a triple, and Chris Carafeno followed with a single into left to score him. Konopka’s infield RBI single later in the inning scored Barrett to give Middletown a 4-1 lead.
“When we put our bats on the ball we make things happen,” Botti said.
Middletown tacked on its final two runs in the fifth. Tiernan Powers reached on a error at short and scored on Ryan Quinn’s triple into the corner in left, and Quinn eventually scored on a wild pitch.
“I was looking for a pitch there to drive,” said Quinn, who plays for Middletown High. The left fielder agreed with his coach’s take that the team should be playing with high energy every game.
“There was better energy in the dugout, a better environment,” he said. “We should be attacking every game with that kind of intensity.”
Garofalo will attend St. Thomas More as a postgrad, joining Pascarelli. Pascarelli is committed to UConn and will join the Huskies in the fall of 2022 … East Hartford/Manchester manager Matt Schiff was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Steve LaRosa at the end of the third inning … RCP Post 105 (Rocky Hill/Cromwell/Portland) won its eighth straight Monday, beating Ellington 8-0. Right-hander Ryan Robb went six innings, allowing two hits, four walks and striking out seven. Justin Fraleigh drove in two runs and Robb had two of RCP’s six hits … Middletown and RCP meet next Friday at Palmer Field (7pm).
EHM…010 000 0–1 2 3
Midd..112 020 X–6 7 0
Batteries: EHM–Joey Magnano, Jacob Carrion (5) and Jacob Tipton; M–Alex Mach and Mike Garofalo. WP: Mach; LP: Magnano. 2B: M–Garofalo,; EHM–Barry. 3B: M–Clancy, Quinn. LOB: EHM–4; M–8.