Pictured: A shorthanded RCP team’s summer ended with Wednesday’s loss to Avon at Fran Monnes Field. (Marc Silvestrini Photo)
By Marc Silvestrini
CROMWELL — Timely hitting, solid defensive play and a strong outing from starter Luke Coppen propelled Avon to a 9-3 win over Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland on Wednesday, eliminating the Post 105ers from the American Legion state tournament and ending their season.
Avon jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead through the first two and a half innings, withstood a two-run RCP rally in the bottom of the third, and then sealed the deal by scoring four unearned runs in the fifth to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
Post 105 was missing four starters and played the game with only 10 players in uniform Wednesday. The team lost a chunk of its roster following coach Paul Francis’ decision to let those who had family vacations planned end their season early in the wake of the team’s ouster from the Northeast Regional qualifying tournament last week
“We had to use some guys in positions they’re not used to playing to cover for the guys that aren’t here, but what really happened tonight is that Avon just outplayed us,” Francis said. “They did a great job of hitting with men on base and they fielded the ball better than we did.”
RCP concludes its season with a 17-5 record while Avon (14-7) advances to face Bristol at Rotary Field in South Windsor on Thursday night.
“I like the enthusiasm we’re playing with right now. We’re definitely playing our best baseball of the year,” said Avon coach Miles Borenstein. “We really seem to be putting it all together at the right time. It’s been exciting to watch.”
Coppen hurled 5 2/3 innings for the winners, allowing two unearned runs on six hits, fanning four and walking four. Dan Galliher closed things out with an inning-and-a-third of hitless relief, though he gave up a run on two walks and two wild pitches in the seventh.
After retiring the first five hitters he faced, RCP starter Zach Zajac surrendered three straight singles with two outs in the top of the second, including a two-out, RBI hit by Nick Amatulli, to give Post 201 an early 1-0 lead.
A walk, an opposite-field blooper and a bunt single enabled the visitors to load the bases with none out in the third before a sacrifice fly by Emmett Borenstein and a clutch two-out, two-run double by Matt Leopold put three more runs on the board to stretch Avon’s lead to 4-0.
RCP clawed back into the game in its half of the third, plating a pair of runs after a two-out error opened the gates for the home team. Back-to-back line-drive singles by Tino Gagliardi and Justin Fraleigh brought the runs home, slicing the Avon lead to 4-2.
Two straight infield errors brought home two runs and put runners at second and third with no one out in the Avon fifth before Tyler Nyberg’s bases-clearing double stretched the visitors’ lead to 8-4.
RCP catcher Nick Polizonis got the last out of the fifth after switching positions with Zajac. Polizonis allowed three hits, two of which came on bunts, and one unearned run in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Zajac went 4 2/3, giving up eight hits and eight runs, though only four were earned.
All told, the Post 105ers committed three costly errors which led to five unearned Avon runs.
Fraleigh paced RCP’s six-hit attack with a pair of hits and an RBI, while Gagliardi added a hit and an RBI. Ryan Robb, Elias DeLeon and Zajac collected the other Post 105 hits.
Leopold, Amatulli, Max Raha and Christian Boudreau each had two hits for Avon while Leopold, Amatulli and Nyberg each knocked in two runs.
“I thought we had a real good season and I’m happy for my guys, especially the six who won’t be back next year (because they’ve reached the age limit),” Francis said. “You can’t ask for a better group of kids than those six – they each represent what this program is all about.”
Avon….013 040 1–9 11 1
RCP…..002 000 1–3 6 3
Batteries: A–Coppen, Galliher (6) and Borenstein; RCP–Zajac, Polizonis (5) and Polizonis, Zajac (5). WP: Coppen; LP: Zajac. 2B: A–Leopold, Nyberg, Amatulli; RCP–Zajac. Records: Avon 14-7; RCP 17-5.