The baseball gods were smiling on Xavier at Palmer Field on Monday as the Falcons extended their winning streak in spectacular fashion.
With Shelton holding an 8-2 lead entering the home half of the sixth inning, Xavier coach Nick Cerrerta told his players to “go play some baseball for the last inning and a half and see what happens.” The Falcons responded with a six-run breakout to tie it and used a two-out hit off the bat of Vik Vakati to walk off with a 9-8 Southern Connecticut Conference win over the Gaels.
“It was a tale of two games and two teams,” coach Nick Cerreta said after watching his Falcons make bad play after bad play before the switch was flipped. “We didn’t play well for five-and-a-half innings. We were a different team in the last inning and a half. This should give the kids the belief that they’re never out of a game.”
The Falcons improved to 5-1 with their fourth straight win. Now looming: a Friday night game (7pm) at Palmer against No. 3-ranked Amity (6-0).
Xavier’s half of the sixth started with a triple by Colin Loria, but his spark appeared short-lived after Shelton got the next two outs. JJ Fox, however, was hit on a 2-2 pitch to keep the inning alive.
Spencer Misenti followed with a single to score Loria, and Vakati gave Xavier more hope with a two-RBI hit to make it an 8-5 game. Drew Kron drove in another run with a double, and Shelton’s defense did the rest — JP Hosney reached on an error and Brandon Gaer’s fly ball was dropped by the center field for an error, tying the game at 8.
Falcons right-hander Owen Sotero, who relieved starter Dillon Luke in the fifth, was pitching with runners on first and second in the seventh when shortstop Loria made the play of the night. With one out, Loria lunged to snare a sinking line drive in the hole between short and third and threw to Vakati at second for the double play.
“Colin threw from his knees and Vik stretched to get it,” Cerreta said. “It was an incredible play.”
The Falcons had more thrills in store in the bottom of the inning. Misenti worked a two-out walk, stole second and came around on Vakati’s hit to left field. There was no play at the plate.
“Spencer has been a sparkplug all year for us,” Cerreta said. “He’s just an incredible player. He was running on contact.”
Sotero did not allow a run and walked just one in notching the win.
“He did great,” Cerreta said. “He spotted the ball and threw strikes.”
The matchup was the teams’ first since the opening round of the Class LL tournament last June. Xavier was the higher seed at Palmer Field, but Shelton scored 13 runs to eliminate the Falcons.
Cerreta said the comeback should serve as an important lesson for any team facing long odds late in a game.
“It was just an incredible comeback and an absolutely incredible fight from us,” he said. “We try not to put too much on one game, win or lose. But we know as coaches, you have to live it. And we say it all the time, ‘You have to play seven innings.’ But a team won’t believe until you experience it and you saw it tonight. This should tell them, you have it in you to win a game like this.”
Elsewhere around the county on Monday:
Coginchaug 4, Haddam-Killingworth 3: Jeremy Mangiameli drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Blue Devils (4-3) to their fourth win of the season. Jayson Penney was the winning pitcher in relief of Henry Bugai, who went 5 innings. Mangiameli had 3 RBIs. Blake Kamoen took the loss in relief of Cougars starter Liam Gordon. Todd Butler, Alex Sheehan and Dylan Coon had 2 hits each for H-K (4-3). Coon and Ryan Erskine had 1 RBI each.
Morgan 11, Hale-Ray 3: Morgan broke open a 4-3 game with 5 runs in the third inning and 2 in the fourth to beat the Noises for its second win in nine games. Garret Garbinski and Robbie Estabrook doubled for the Huskies. Ryan Donadio was the winning pitcher. Miles Gagne had a double for the Noises (3-3). Sam Forsyth took the loss.
East Hampton 17, Westbrook 0 (5 innings): Dan Cascio drove in 3 runs, while Carter Scovill and Avery Hall had 2 hits and 2 RBIs apiece for the Bellringers in their Shoreline win in Moodus. Javy Diaz and RJ Stanford scored 3 runs apiece for East Hampton (3-4). Sam Freeman had the lone hit for Westbrook (0-7).
Valley Regional 15, Old Saybrook 1 (5 innings): Abby Amara drove in 4 runs to power the Warriors (3-3) in their Shoreline win in Deep River. Anna Benson was 2 for 3 with 4 runs scored and 3 RBIs for Valley, while Vivian Paradis had 2 hits and scored 3 times and Riley Soares was 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored. Cassie Johnson and Ellie Pennington had the only hits for the Rams, with Johnson driving in a run.
Morgan 7, Old Saybrook 0
Joe Morse (M) def. Logan Medbury 6-1, 6-0
Steven Kinser (M) def. Victor Fuda 7-5, 6-0
Matt Lopez (M) def. Daniel Steindl 6-0, 6-1
Morgan wins by forfeit
Zach Nichols and Joe Maselli (M) def. Oliver Baker and Page Guptill 6-3, 6-
Morgan wins by forfeit
Morgan wins by forfeit
East Hampton 6, Old Lyme 1
Griffin McGlinchey (OL) lost to Pat Gavrylchuk 6-1, 1-6, 2-6
Will Danes (OL) def. Konrad Piech 7-5, 6-1
Ryan Clark (OL) lost to Ben Fields 1-6, 0-6
Owen Ingersoll-Bonsack (OL) lost to Reilly Howard 0-6, 0-6
Micah Bass and Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum (OL) lost to Matt Piela and Roman LeFloc’h 2-6, 0-6
Andy Sicuranza and Leland Hine (OL) lost to Anthony Miro and Chris Anderson 6-2, 5-7, 4-6
Nihad Bicic and Alis Bicic (OL) lost to Ben Maynard and Ethan Fields 2-6, 2-6
Old Lyme 7, East Hampton 0
Abby Sicuranza def. Liz MacDonald 6-0, 6-0
Sam Tan def. Eshani Karkun 6-1, 6-2
Elaina Morosky def. Charlotte Minnick 6-0, 6-0
Callie Bass won by forfeit
Livie Bass / Fiona Hufford def. Emma Giovanelli / Jen Trip 6-1, 6-0
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt def. Melanie Hurt / Ginneg Decker 6-0, 6-0
Olivia Schaedler / Karissa Huang def. Addi Howard / Baylee Olzacki 6-0, 6-0