Pictured: Middletown pitcher Caleb Reed (5) runs down RHAM’s Chase Melzen and ends up tagging him for the third out of the first inning. Melzen was trying to advance on a flyout to center. (Photo by Paul Augeri)
By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN — In its last two games, Middletown’s offense produced in big moments with runners on base and won twice.
Monday at Palmer Field, the Blue Dragons had a runner in scoring position in six of seven innings and came out with nothing in five of the six instances. Without a payday, the result was a 3-1 loss to RHAM of Hebron on a breezy afternoon that saw few solid hits fall in for either squad.
RHAM left-hander Fayz Baig wrested himself from each of his jams to pitch five shutout innings for the victory. Right-hander Sean Connolly stranded a runner on third in the sixth and runners at the corners in the seventh to squeeze out the save.
Middletown left eight runners on, six in scoring position, in falling to 7-4. The Dragons play three more times this week: at home against Bristol Eastern on Wednesday, at Coginchaug on Thursday and at Maloney on Friday.
Dan Lapham’s one-out single in the bottom of the seventh and a walk to Ryan Quinn set the stage for another late-game surprise. But Connolly got Eric Wilson to bounce into a force at second and Reed struck out looking on a pitch low in the zone.
“We just couldn’t get the big hit,” Middletown coach Dan Botti said. “RHAM is a good team. Just didn’t do enough today.”
The Raptors won their third in a row to improve to 11-1. Their overall record is second in the CIAC Class L rankings behind undefeated Windsor.
Baig yielded five hits, walked three and struck out four. Caleb Reed took the loss for Middletown. In four innings, he allowed three runs on five hits, walked three and struck out two. Justin Almeida pitched three innings of one-hit relief.
The Raptors took the lead in the second inning on Garrett Nicol’s two-run line-drive single to left off of Blue Dragons starter Caleb Reed. RHAM were pressing to score more with runners on second and third with one out, but Reed did a nice job in getting a strikeout and foul pop-up to third to keep Middletown’s deficit at 2.
RHAM struck again in the third for what would be its final run. Mike Poncini led off with a single, advanced on a groundout and scored on Connolly’s sharp single through the right side. Middletown second baseman Mason Neuman started a 4-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Lapham singled to center with one out in Middletown’s half of the third. He stole second, but Baig made pitches when it mattered, getting a strikeout and groundout to end the inning. In the fourth, Baig walked Neumann and Diego Carrillo with one out and came back for a strikeout and lineout to center.
The Blue Dragons’ lone run scored in the sixth. Reed and Neumann walked to get the inning going against Connolly and both moved up on Carrillo’s grounder to first. Reed scored on Luke Weisenberg’s groundout to short. Neumann, who moved up to third, was stranded when AJ Quinn grounded to short to end the inning.
Botti kept Reed’s pitch count under 75, giving the right-hander a chance to pitch later this week.
“We’re operating with 5 pitchers this week without Weisenberg and Lapham, both starters who are battling injury, Botti said. “Luke felt good enough to come off the bench today (as a pinch hitter). Hopefully he can potentially throw on Friday.”
In other baseball games around the area Monday:
North Branford 3, East Hampton 0: Caleb Allen pitched a complete-game two-hitter, striking out 7, to lead the T-Birds to their fourth win in 5 games. North Branford (9-7) had 3 hits — 1 each by Matt Scalia, Victor Castillo and Ben Stegina. John Onofrio drove in a run. Carter Scovill allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 4 2/3 innings, walked 6 and struck out 8. Hunter Peszynski and Aiden Palen had the Bellringers’ only hits. East Hampton is 7-6.
Hale-Ray 9, Portland 5: The Noises (7-7) scored all of their runs in the first 3 innings. Nathan Wanderman went 5 innings for the win. Josh Hanna, who took the loss for Portland (2-11), hit 2 doubles.
Haddam-Killingworth 14, Old Lyme 0 (6 innings): Brooke Hickman pitched 3 scoreless innings and struck out 7, and contributed a 2-run homer and 3 hits total to power the Cougars to their 14th win in 15 games. Kaleigh Bodak and Bella Richwine combined for 3 shutout innings of relief. Annabella Zajac and Keira Czarkowski had 3 hits each for H-K, while Cheyenne LaTouche reached base 4 times and had 4 RBIs. H-K scored 8 runs in the second inning to blow it open. Victoria Gage had 2 of Old Lyme’s 3 hits. Old Lyme fell to 11-4.
North Branford 5, Valley Regional 1: Sophomore Kiley Mullins pitched a no-hitter while allowing an unearned run with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. Freshmen Alexa Falcioni (4 for 4) and Adriana Hills (3 hits) led the offense for the T-Birds (10-5). Anna Benson went the distance for Valley (5-10), allowing 5 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits and striking out 10.
Cheshire 19, Mercy 9: Cat Palmer and Erin Hersch hit home runs as the Rams improved to 11-4. Katelyn Bailey and McKayla Greenwood homered for the Tigers (5-9).
Hale-Ray 197, Coginchaug 218
At Black Birch Golf Club, Moodus
Medalist: Colin Murphy, Coginchaug, 2-under 34.
Old Lyme 205, Old Saybrook 206
At Fenwick Golf Course, Old Saybrook
Medalist: Connor Cassella, Old Saybrook, 43
Other Old Saybrook scorers: Drew Kulmann 44, Jacob Speed 59, Adam Dower 62.
Old Lyme scorers: Pat Flanagan 44, Alex Chrysoulakis 55, Andrew Hedberg 51, Manu Geronimo 57, Evan Montvile 55.
Wildcat Invitational, at Norwich Golf Club
Medalist: Charlie Duffy, Fairfield Prep, 74.
Xavier scorers: John Carrozzella 80, John Thompson 80, Finn Russell 83, Madison Whitney and Brady Pill 88.
Team scores: 1. Fairfield Prep 316; RHAM 324; Killingly 329; Xavier 331; Portland 335, East Catholic 352, NFA 356; Fitch 361; Waterford 369; Woodstock Academy 370; Montville 385; Norwich Free Academy 410.
Mercy 15, West Haven 12: Lily Schoonmaker scored 9 goals to lead Mercy to its second win in 11 matches. Mackenzie Kelley added 3 goals for the Tigers, Maddie Carbone scored 2 and Abby Devivo 1. Callia Borkowski made 15 saves for Mercy. Julia Isakonis led West Haven (5-9) with 4 goals.
Old Lyme repeated as Shoreline Conference champion with a 7-0 victory over Cromwell on Monday.
Abby Sicuranza def. Kelly McTeague 6-2, 6-3
Callie Bass def. Caroline Rogozinski 6-0, 6-0
Elaina Morosky def. Emily Green 6-0, 6-2
Olivia Schaedler def. Amina Beskovic 6-2, 6-1
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton def. Gabriella Voccio / Amira Abdelghany 6-1, 6-0
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt def. Julia Baymuradova / Olivia Lusitani 6-0, 6-0
Fiona Hufford / Izzy Reynolds def. Julia Drew / Aisling Gollareny 6-1, 6-0