MERIDEN — Is it safe to say the Cheshire Legion baseball team’s super-regional elimination game with Naugatuck was a walk in the Ceppa Field park Monday night?
And then it turned into a runaway.
Post 92 put a run on the board courtesy of four walks before a single out was recorded, then put four runs in the book before the first inning was over.
So was the game. With Cheshire ace Ben Shadeck on the mound, Naugatuck was cooked at square one. Shadeck and reliever Cole Feinauer combined on a five-inning no-hitter and Cheshire polished off a 13-0 mercy-rule victory that sets up a border war with Zone 3 rival Southington in the South Division super regional final.
“We were excellent,” said Cheshire coach John Escoto. “No complaints at all. We were fired up and, yeah, we’re excited to be still playing.”
Southington and Cheshire meet Tuesday at Ceppa at 6:30 p.m. Southington, unbeaten in super regional play, has the upper hand. Cheshire, which lost to Southington 4-0 on Saturday, must beat Post 72 twice.
If a winner-take-all third game is required, it will be played Wednesday, also at Ceppa at 6:30 p.m.
Whichever team is left standing advances to the best-of-three state championship series that Ceppa Field will host this coming weekend.
As for Monday’s game, Cheshire slew Naugatuck by degrees, then by daggers.
Always patient at the plate, Post 92 immediately capitalized on Naugatuck starter Griffin Browne’s lack of command. Ryan Strollo, Ben Schena and Shadeck walked to load the bases and Ian Battipaglia followed with the fourth straight free pass to bring in Strollo.
Naugatuck brought in reliever Jon Chatfield at that point. He gave up a RBI single to Paul Villecco, then was undone by his defense as a throwing error allowed two more runs to score.
Cheshire was right back at it in the second inning. A single by Schena and back-to-back walks to Shadeck and Ian Battipaglia loaded the bases. Schena scooted home on a wild pitch and it was 5-0.
Before the inning was over, that lead would double. A walk to Villecco reloaded the bases for Ryan Cyr, who brought in two runs with an infield single. Matt Geyda plated two more with a double over the right fielder’s head and scored in turn on Strollo’s RBI single into right center.
With a 10-0 lead going into the top of the third, Cheshire pulled Shadeck and brought in Feinauer. That keeps Shadeck, who threw just 27 pitches, available to work against Southington.
”Shadeck’s been our workhorse all year long and we’re lucky that we’re going to be able to throw him tomorrow,” Coach Escoto noted.
Naugatuck, meanwhile, brought in a third pitcher, even a fourth. To no avail. In the third inning, Shadeck walked, Ian Battipaglia singled and both scored on back-to-back wild pitches. In the fourth, Escoto walked and scored run No. 13 on an error.
Needing four runs to stave off the mercy rule, Naugatuck instead went 1-2-3 as Feinauer completed the no-hitter and improved Cheshire’s overall mark to 30-4.