Pictured: Coginchaug starter Anthony Morro pitched 6 2/3 innings Monday against Old Saybrook, yielding one run on four hits. (Photo by Marc Silvestrini)
By Marc Silvestrini
DURHAM – According to Merriam-Webster, the word “clutch,” when used as an adjective, means “successful in a crucial situation.”
In the wake of Coginchaug’s heart-stopping 2-1 win over Old Saybrook on Monday, the good folks at Merriam-Webster might consider including a small picture of Coginchaug’s Jeremy Mangiameli to help illustrate the concept.
Mangiameli, who had played the first 6 2/3 innings of the game as the Blue Devils’ third baseman, was summoned to the mound by coach Mark Basil with Coginchaug clinging to a 2-1 lead with two out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
He was brought into the game in relief of Blue Devils starter Anthony Morro to face the third batter in the Rams’ order, Augie Albert, a dangerous hitter who had hit two home runs in last Thursday’s win over Portland.
Mangiameli threw four straight fastballs to fan Albert and ended the game.
“That’s a tough situation to be in when there’s nowhere to put the guy,” Mangiameli conceded. “I really needed to throw strikes, so I just threw him fastballs.”
Mangiameli’s four-pitch save made a winner of Morro, who pitched a strong game in his own right. The senior right-hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of four-hit baseball, striking out five, walking three and hitting two batters.
He was also helped by inning-ending double plays in the third and fourth innings.
“I have a lot of faith in my defense,” Morro said, adding that he normally employs both a knuckle-curve and a split-finger fastball as his off-speed pitches but relied heavily on his knuckle-curve Monday due to the strong, gusty winds.
“I really didn’t want to use the splitter today because it would just kind of float up there towards the batters in all this wind,” he said.
The win improves Coginchaug’s record to 9-5 on the season and 9-4 in the Shoreline Conference. Old Saybrook drops to 11-4 both overall and in the conference.
As might be expected by the final score, there was a third outstanding pitching performance Monday. Saybrook senior Jake Butler pitched a six-inning complete game, yielding two unearned runs on five hits, fanning six and walking two.
“Jake’s been great for us all year and I thought he pitched another great game again today,” Rams coach Ryan Fraser said. “We just didn’t give him much support.”
The Blue Devils gave Morro a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Ryan Grant drew a two-out walk off Butler and Jack Franceschet pulled a double down the right field line to put men on second and third with two out.
Connor Willett then hit a hard infield grounder that resulted in an error allowing Grant to trot home with the first run of the game.
That same pattern – a two-out walk followed by a double to right – repeated itself in the top of the fifth when Saybrook scored to tie the game at 1- apiece. This time, it was the Rams’ Carson Brown who drew the two-out bases on ball and Noah Hester who pulled the double into the right-field corner, scoring Brown.
The Devils then parlayed a hit and a throwing error into what became the game-winning rally in the last of the sixth. Catcher Ethan Covello opened the inning with a single to right and was forced at second on Morro’s fielder’s choice grounder to short.
With two out and Morro having advanced to second, Devil pinch hitter John Carafeno hit an infield bouncer to the left side that was thrown over first baseman Noah Grace’s head enabling Morro to scamper home with the go-ahead run.
Morro then retired the first two batters in the seventh before giving up a single to Brown and walking Hester and Connor Lane. And at that point Basil summoned Mangiameli.
“It’s funny how things can turn around in this game,” Basil said. “They beat us 5-0 earlier this year on five unearned runs and today we scored a couple of unearned runs to beat them.”
He added that he never doubted Mangiameli’s ability to get the last out.
“It was a big situation, a big moment in the game, but that’s his mentality — that’s his nature,” the coach said, referring to his relief ace. “We got great pitching today and I thought our defense played well,” he concluded.
Mangiameli and Covello had two hits apiece on the day while Franceschet had the only other hit Butler allowed. Hester had two of Saybrook’s four hits while Butler and Brown had the other two.
Coginchaug will travel to Old Lyme Tuesday for a 4 p.m. game before hosting Middletown on Thursday at 3:45 and Windsor Locks on Friday at 4 p.m.
Old Saybrook visits St. Bernard on Thursday before hosting Portland Saturday at noon.
Old Saybrook…000 010 0–1 4 2
Coginchaug……010 001 x–2 5 1
Batteries: OS–Butler and Lane; C–Morro, Mangiameli (7) and Covello. WP: Morro; LP: Butler; S: Mangiameli. 2B: OS–Hester; C–Franceschet.