MERIDEN – Cheshire Post 92 and Southington Post 72 both advanced to the 19U American Legion Division Super Regionals which started on Saturday. Both teams won their initial contests with Southington defeating Oakville, 3-1 and Cheshire defeating Naugatuck, 4-0 at Meriden’s Ceppa Field.
The Division Super Regionals are double elimination. Cheshire and Southington will now face off at Ceppa on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Nick Borkowski was the story for Southington on Saturday. Borkowski was absolutely dominant, pitching seven innings and only surrendering two hits. Borkwoski struck out five batters and didn’t allow a walk. The most fascinating aspect about Borkowski’s outing was that he only threw 75 pitches in the victory.
“I thought Nick Borkowski came out and pitched a great game,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said. “Baseball is a game of failure and it’s about how you respond. Nick struggled the other day in that loss against Trumbull but he came back today and pitched an absolute gem. He led us to victory and I’m proud of him.”
Southington got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. After Jeremy Mercier singled, he stole second to put himself in scoring position. Mercier reached third base after tagging up on a fly ball to right field and was driven in off of a single by Tyler Cyr. After Cyr swiped second base Danny Topper slapped a single to bring Cyr home, giving Southington a 2-0 lead.
Oakville managed to cut the lead down to one run after Justin Guerrero knocked in a run with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. Southington would get that run right back in the top of the seventh. Dylan Chiaro had an RBI single of his own, scoring Cyr to give Southington a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
The two-run lead was all that Borkowski needed as he cruised to the victory in short order. Borkowski worked very quickly as the game was wrapped up in an hour and 15 minutes. Borkowski going to distance helps Southington immensely in terms of saving their other arms.
“It’s very big and it saves the arms, plus he’s available after a short rest if needed later this week,” Verderame said. “It’s good to keep him down, he’s a quick worker. He throws strikes which is important in this league and it’s important that we have four or five guys ready to go. We’ve got the pitching to withstand this gauntlet.”
Like Southington, Cheshire had a dominant performance from its starting pitcher. Aidan Godfrey threw a complete game shutout, striking out four and only allowing four hits. Godfrey also only allowed two walks in his outing.
“They played solid,” Cheshire coach John Escoto said. “We didn’t make mistakes, we threw enough pitches and the guys got the job done.”
Cheshire’s offense took a little bit to get going but in the bottom of the fourth, their bats woke up. Ben Schena led off the inning with an infield single and was followed up by a walk to Ben Shadeck. Two batters later, Cole Escoto smoked a line drive down the left field line. The left fielder misplayed it and the error allowed the ball to get by him, scoring Schena and Shadeck to give Cheshire a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cheshire got a couple of insurance runs. After Ian Battipaglia legged out an infield single, Naugatuck intentionally walked Escoto to force a lefty-lefty matchup with Paul Villeco. Villeco was hit by a curve ball that went too far inside to load the bases. Ryan Cyr then smacked a double down the left-field line to score Battipaglia and Escoto, giving Cheshire a 4-0 lead.
Godfrey went on to finish the job for Cheshire, setting up a matchup with Southington on Day 2 of the Division Super Regionals on Sunday. Cheshire and Southington are familiar foes as Zone 3 competitors.
“I hope we get more production but their kid was decent,” Coach Escoto said. “He threw a lot of curveballs and we haven’t run into somebody who throws that many curveballs, two out of three pitches it seemed like. That’s something different plus he was lefty. We haven’t faced a lot of lefties and we have a lot of lefties in our lineup. That’s it though, we’ll come back tomorrow and see what happens.”