SOUTHINGTON – Southington Post 72 punched it’s ticket to the Super Regionals with a 7-2 victory over Trumbull Post 141 on Thursday night at Fontana Field.
Southington, the No. 3 seed, in the four-team South Region pod will play No. 2 Oakville at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Meriden’s Ceppa Field.
Post 72 joined fellow area squad Cheshire Post 92 in the Super Regionals. Cheshire drew the No. 1 seed and will face No. 4 Naugatuck at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Ceppa. The Super Regionals is a double elimination tournament that runs through Aug. 1.
Cheshire dispatched Waterbury 10-0 in six innings at Burt Leventhal Field on Thursday and improved to 28-3 on the season.
Southington’s victory over Trumbull clinched them the Pod E crown.
In Thursday’s win, it was a continution of a winner-take-all contest that began on Wednesday in Southington. There was some talk that Thursday’s game would be continued in Trumbull, but because Southington had a better regular season winning percentage the game remained in Southington.
Bob Borkowski, who was acting head coach in Marc Verderame’s sted on Thursday, was confident his players would step up.
“I think we will come out a lot more energy this game,” Borkowski said. “These guys are ready. They rarely have two back-to-back bad games.”
Ryan Sheehan was sent to the mound for Southington. He has not played since he struggled against Trumbull in the first of three meetings on Tuesday. Borkowski’s faith in Sheehan was not wavering.
“Sheehan generally does not have two back-to-back bad games, so I did not say much to him. He wanted the ball yesterday so I don’t worry about him at all,” Borkowski said.
Sheehan faced off against Trumbull’s ace Andrew Lojko. Picking up in the bottom of the first Southington leading 2-1 would lose the lead off of miscues. Catcher Josh Panarella tried to pick off John Lynch Jr. from third but overthrew third base which allowed Lynch to scamper home to make the score, 2-2. Southington third baseman Jeremy Mercier and outfielder Tyler Cyr had hits for Post 72 in the second inning, but were left stranded.
Sheehan and Lojko matched zeroes for the next few frames.
It was not until the fifth inning when Southington turned up the heat. Second baseman Danny Topper started things with a leadoff single. After an out, Panarella stroked a single and Brandon Kohl reached on an error. Topper scored on a wild pitch as Southington went up 3-2. Post 72 doubled their lead with a RBI by Jake Romano.
The momentum on offense translated over on defense with a 1-2-3 inning by Sheehan, that included a slick play by Romano. Outfielder Dylan Chiaro also made a running catch on a deep fly ball to preserve the 4-2 edge.
Post 72 kept their foot on the gas in the sixth. With two outs, Topper lined a single. Chiaro delivered a double to give Southington second-and-third with two outs. Panarella ripped another double which brought Topper and Chiaro home to put Southington up 6-2.
Lojko was pulled in favor of Peter Autori and he escaped further damage for Trumbull.
Sheehan backed up up his offensive support with a shut-down inning. He retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth.
Some heads-up baserunning by Mercier resulted in a Southington run in the seventh. Mercier singled and was running on the pitch when Cyr dropped down a bunt single and kept motoring to third. Once he got there he noticed no one was covering home and slid in safely. Lack of communication cost Trumbull another run. Sheehan put the finishing touches on the contest and Southington moved on.
“Hats off to that kid. He’s a battler,” Borkowski said of Sheehan. “Like I said, I’ve never seen him throw two bad games in a row. He came in and was the MVP today.”
Borkowski said he was excited to see vintage Sheehan in the biggest game of the season.
“It’s huge, these guys came to play,” Borkowski said. “I knew they were ready to play yesterday, when they hopped on them early. No doubt in my mind.”
Panarella said the team was ready to compete.
“We went out there and had fun,” Panarella said. “We played how Post 72 should play and now we are back on track. We knew we were the better team and we had to go out there a play like it. I can’t wait to keep on going with these guys.”