AMERICAN LEGION: Nary an opportunity squandered, Southington routs Ellington and remains alive in Northeast Regional

AMERICAN LEGION: Nary an opportunity squandered, Southington routs Ellington and remains alive in Northeast Regional

WORCESTER, Mass. — WIth two runs in the top of the first inning, coach Marc Verderame and his Southington American Legion baseball team made it clear they had no desire to head home Thursday from the Northeast Regional Tournament.

With seven more runs in the seventh, and a handful of others in between, Post 72 made sure it would sticking around the College of the Holy Cross for at least another day.

Southington stayed alive Thursday with a 12-1 rout of Ellington, the team it defeated last weekend to win the Connecticut state championship.

“It feels great. This is a team that thrives on adversity,” Verderame said. “They won’t go gently into that good night.”

On Thursday, Southington’s Dylan Thomas was second baseman Dan Topper. The leadoff hitter sparked the offense, going 2-for-4, scoring three runs and stealing two bases.

Starting pitcher Nick Borkowski allowed just one run in three-plus innings and Justin Verrilli tossed three innings of scoreless relief as Post 72 advanced to a Friday matchup with the loser of Portland, Maine and  Rochester, N.H., who played late Thursday night.

A day after falling 5-1 in the first round against Essex, Vt., Southington immediately took charge against Ellington. Unlike Wednesday, when opportunities were squandered, Post 72 cashed in on virtually every one Thursday and left all the frustation to the opposition.

The tone was set in the first inning. Topper singled, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and trotted home on Jeremy Mercier’s two-out single. Following a walk to Brayden Cooney that moved Mercier into scoring position, Andrew Owsianko lashed a run-scoring base hit that made it 2-0.

Ellington, with a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the first, had a chance to answer. Instead, Borkowski got his third strikeout of the frame.

Southington pushed its advantage to 3-0 in the second. Tyler Cyr started his 2-for-3 day with single, advanced to third on Topper’s second hit in as many trips and came home on Dylan Chiaro’s sacrifice fly.

Cyr lit the fuse once again in Southington’s two-run fourth, leading off with a double. While Cyr was ultimately erased at the plate on a fielder’s choice, two runners were in scoring position when Josh Panarella connected for a ground-rule double that made it 5-0.

Ellington pushed across its lone run in the home half of the fourth with a single by Logan Terry off Borkowski and a RBI single by Sam Corriveau off Verrilli.

That would be it for Ellington, though. Verrilli worked a 1-2-3 fifth and, with two men aboard, ended the sixth by snaring a line drive and turning it into a double play.

Then came the seventh, when Southington capitalized on two Ellington errors to pile up seven unearned runs and truly put the game away. Chiaro singled home his second run of the day and Cooney brought in the final two with a single of his own.

Before that, Post 72 scored in a variety of ways: two-run error, bases-loaded walk, bases-loaded HBP.

It was indeed a multi-faceted win for a team with a single-minded purpose of advancing as deep as possible into the regional despite the knockdown sustained at square one.

Friday’s game is slated for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch. Ryan Henderson will take the hill for Southington. A win would put Southington in the weekend’s final four.

“We are confident; we have the pitching staff to run this gauntlet,” Verderame said. “[On Friday] we have the Connecticut pitcher of the year vs their number three. We rolled the dice and took a chance pulling Borkowski early today. Now we have Sheehan and him for Sunday. Today’s win was really important. We’re really enjoying this win.”


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