Middletown staged a monumental comeback from a first-inning injury to starting pitcher Luke Weisenberg and an ensuing three-run deficit to reach the state tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 1991.
The Blue Dragons, seeded 29th of 32 teams in the Class L field, scored two runs in the seventh inning and sewed up a 5-4 victory over host No. 13 Torrington on Wednesday when center fielder Ryan Quinn threw out the potential tying run at third base.
Middletown will play No. 12 Hand, the defending Class L champion, in Madison on Saturday at noon with a semifinal berth on the line. The Blue Dragons, who entered the tournament at 8-12 after losing 9 of their last 10 regular-season games, haven’t seen this stage of a tournament since the ’91 team was on its way to winning the Class L title at Palmer Field.
Already missing starter Dan Lapham due to injury, Middletown’s challenges in the pitching department multiplied when Weisenberg reaggravated a back injury 11 pitches in and had to be pulled. He missed two weeks of time in May with the injury.
Weisenberg allowed a single and double around a hit batsman and left the game with a 1-2 count on Torrington’s cleanup hitter. Coach Dan Botti called on Tyler Powell, who came in cold, and although the three runners scored, Powell pitched the rest of the way for the win. He allowed a run on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
After the first inning, Middletown chipped away at the deficit. Mason Neumann singled and scored on a double by Diego Carrillo, who replaced Weisenberg in the order, to make it a 3-1 game.
In the third, the Blue Dragons got another run back. Quinn walked, stole second and scored on a single by Eric Wilson. Torrington (13-9) scored a single run in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead.
In the fourth, Neumann singled, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and came across on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Drew Strickland.
The 4-3 score stood into the seventh. Strickland reached on a leadoff walk and went to third when AJ Quinn’s bunt was thrown away for an error. Powell hit a fly ball to center, scoring Strickland and tying the game, and Quinn advanced from second to third when the throw got away from the infield.
A fly ball by Lapham scored Quinn with the go-ahead run.
In Torrington’s final at-bat, the Red Raiders singled off Powell to start things and advanced the runner to second with a sacrifice. The Raiders’ No. 9 hitter flied directly at Ryan Quinn in center for the second out, and the runner tagging was thrown out by 20 feet, Botti said.
In Class LL, No. 1 Xavier reached the quarterfinal round with a 10-5 victory over No. 16 New Canaan. The Falcons will play their third straight tournament game at Palmer Field on Saturday when they meet No. 8 Danbury at 1pm.
Class M Softball
Haddam-Killingworth 20, Wilcox Tech 4 (5 innings): The third-seeded Cougars breezed into the quarterfinals after scoring 15 runs in the first inning, Bella LaTorre had 6 RBIs with a triple and double in the inning, while Cheyenne LaTouche had 4 hits and 5 RBIs on the day. Kaleigh Bodak pitched 3 innings, striking out 8 of 9 batters to pick up her 15th win of the season. The Cougars will host No. 6 Oxford on Friday (3pm).
Portland 150, Old Saybrook 171
At Portland GC
Medalist: Luke Stennett, Portland, 4-under 31
Other Portland scorers: Quinn Lapinski 38, Joe LaMalfa 37, Eli Evison 44, Giovanni Discenza 44.
Old Saybrook scorers: Drew Kulmann 40, Rylan Murphy 41, Connor Cassella 42, Jacob Speed 48.
Southern Connecticut Conference Championship Tournament
At The Farms, Wallingford
Champion: Fairfield Prep, 304.
Medalist: Mike Rothberg, Fairfield Prep, 72.
Rest of the field: Cheshire 320, Guilford 331, Xavier 333, Shelton and Hand 336, Notre Dame-West Haven 338, Branford 339, Amity 343.
Xavier scorers: John Carrozzella 82, John Thompson 82, Finn Russell 84, Madison Whitney 85.
North Branford 179, Haddam-Killingworth 189
At Indian Springs
Medalist: Jack O’Brien, North Branford, 40.
Other North Branford scorers: Dakota Cooper 48, Robert Cappella 45, Drew Girardi 52, Jalen Rossicone 46.
H-K scorers: Andrew Fleig 45, Gabe Barile 49, Andrew Crayton 49, Jacob Maier 57, Declan Kessler 46.