MERIDEN — Meriden’s Carson Coon took the mound against Southington Post 72 on Wednesday evening in a must-win game. The ace delivered with a one-hit, complete-game shutout in a 3-0 Zone 3 victory at Legion Field to keep Meriden’s playoff hopes alive.
“I was very happy. The team, unlike last night, played very solid. They played with high energy, crisp, had very good pitching obviously. Defense was very sharp, and the bats did just enough,” Meriden coach Doug Wedge said. “We rode Carson’s arm to the victory.”
While Southington (17-7) has the No. 2 seed all but locked up in the Zone 3 standings, Meriden currently sits in fifth place. However, Meriden is hosting the legion playoffs so even if they finish in fifth place, they’d play the 16th seed in a play-in game. If Meriden can win down the stretch and catch Middletown for the No. 4 seed, they would avoid a do-or-die, one-game play-in to get into the playoffs.
Meriden (12-13) has had a season of ups and downs. There are certain games Post 45 looks dominate and other days they don’t. On Wednesday night, the good Meriden team came to play.
Coon led the charge for Meriden with a Carson Coon like performance.
The Manhattan-bound hurler showed why he’s the ace of the pitching staff throwing a complete game, one hit shutout. Coon struck out 11 batters and only surrendered one walk, which came in the seventh inning.
Coon also had help from his defense. Southington’s hitters put the ball in play but Meriden’s defense was up to the task. Sebby Grignano had a busy night at shortstop. He ate up everything hit his way.
Meriden’s bats did just enough to support Coon. In the top of the first, Elliot Good started the rally with a two-out double to center. Devyn McCarty then reached on a single to shallow right field. Grignano drew a walk to load up the bases and then Chris Guyette was hit by a pitch to force in a run. McCarty scored Meriden’s second run of the contest on a wild pitch as the home team led 2-0 after one inning.
Southington played solid, fundamental defense and held Meriden’s from scoring up until scoring again in the bottom of the fifth inning. E.J. Dudley reached with a single to get things started for Post 45. Michael Valentin then pinch ran, as Dudley left with an apparent injury. Valentin advanced to second on a passed ball and swiped third base. Good then hit a sacrifice fly to score Valentin, giving Meriden a 3-0 lead and Coon an insurance run to work with.
Coon came out in the top of the seventh looking to close the game out. After striking out the first batter Coon struck out the next batter, Jeremy Mercier, who reached first on a passed ball after the third strike. Coon then blew away the next two Southington batters to end his outing with by striking out four batters in the seventh inning.
“Coon’s a great pitcher. He came in and shut us down again,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said. “There’s not much to say, he’s the best pitcher we’ve seen. He came in and mixed it up and we just couldn’t get to him. They put up three and we didn’t do much. I think we got one hit and he pitched great. Hats off to them.”
Southington will get at opportunity for revenge against Meriden as they’ll play again on Thursday at night in Meriden.
“It’ll be a different pitcher and I’m assuming they’ll come out with a different pitcher. If we come out with the same energy and I don’t see why we can’t come out with the same energy, then we should be right in the ball game battling at the end,” Wedge said. “It’s all on these guys. We came out last night against Madison, flatter than a tire and looked horrible.
Then we came out and won tonight, so we’ll see how they look tomorrow night. Hopefully they come with the same energy.”
“We’re getting ready for the playoffs,” Verderame said. “It’s good to see pitching like that. We’ve lost two in a row and we’re looking to right the ship here a little bit. We’re gearing up for the playoffs and we’re trying to win every game. We’ve got learn and we have to take this knowing that we’re going to face this kind of pitching in the playoffs. We’ve got to be ready for this so I was happy we faced this guy. Sometimes you don’t want to face a really good pitcher but I was happy to face a pitcher like Coon today. I want these kids to see this kid and get better, know what it feels like and hopefully it’ll help us later on.”