The champs. Front row: Colin Murphy, Gage Rovelli, Kevin Ryan, Edward Fournier, Jeremy Mangiameli. Back row: Francesco Marotta, Tyler Garretson, Mike Garofalo, Chris Carafeno, Alex Mach, PJ Casey-Leonard, Connor Willett. Coaches: Manager Joe Fournier, coach Bruce Willett, coach Jeff Labasi.
July 20, 2016 09:34PM
Coginchaug captured the District 9 (11-12) baseball title Thursday night, July 14 with a 12-2 victory over Guilford at Killingworth’s Sheldon Park.
The win completed a dominant 7-0 run for the team, as it swept through district pool play and the double-elimination final rounds, outscoring opponents 66-23 in the seven games.
Coginchaug began its run with a tough 1-0 rain-shortened victory over the host team, Killingworth. The locals received a dominant pitching performance from Mike Garofalo. Jeremy Mangiameli homered for the only run of the game.
Up next, Coginchaug downed Haddam, 6-0. The winners were powered by the battery of Chris Carafeno on the mound and Colin Murphy behind the plate, and solid defense by first baseman Garofalo and a pair of outstanding plays at third by Edward Fournier. Garofalo homered.
From there, Coginchaug swept East Hampton in consecutive games, 13-0 and 14-5.
In Game 1, starter Francesco Marotta was virtually unhittable, allowing only an infield single in the final inning. The offense was led by Garofalo’s three hits, including two home runs, and timely hits from P.J. Casey-Leonard, Kevin Ryan and Alex Mach.
In Game 2, Coginchaug erased an early deficit, its first of the tournament, behind the incredible defense of shortstop Connor Willet, who finished with six assists, and the bats of Garofalo (4 hits) and Carafeno, who homered.
Coginchaug entered the double-elimination format District 9 finals as the No. 2 seed. Its opening game was a 9-8 win over Guilford, in an exciting back-and-forth battle. Coginchaug’s offense was powered by home runs from Mach, Garofalo and Carafeno (2), and a huge lead-off hit by Tyler Garretson, who scored on Garofalo’s homer at a key moment in the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the score tied, Murphy walked after a brilliant at bat. Gage Rovelli was then hit by a pitch to put two men on base for Fournier. Facing an 0-2 count, Fournier roped a double to the left-center field gap, scoring Murphy for the walk-off win. Earlier in the game, when Guilford had two men in scoring position and a two-run lead, second baseman Kevin Ryan made a highlight reel-worthy defensive play to keep the game close.
Coginchaug then defeated defending champion and overall No. 1 seed Madison 11-8. Coginchaug jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never was threatened. Lead-off hitter Connor Willett reached base and scored four times in the first five innings. Mach, Garofalo (2) and Mangiameli all homered, and Fournier and Murphy had extra-base hits, with Murphy reaching base three times.
On the hill, Carafeno led a gutsy performance from a worn-down pitching staff, and Willett and Mach pitched in relief to close out the game.
Guilford defeated Madison in the losers bracket game to set up a rematch with Coginchaug in the championship game. Coginchaug jumped all over Guilford early, racing out to a five-run first inning lead, highlighted by Rovelli’s two-out, bases-loaded single to score Murphy and Marotta.
Garofalo then set the tone in the bottom of the inning, by striking out the side. He would eventually record 10 of the team’s 12 outs by strikeout. The other two outs were on outstanding defensive plays by Rovelli in his first game in the outfield, and Murphy at second base. After a rain delay in the second inning, Coginchaug went on to mercy-rule Guilford 12-2 to take the district title.
Coginchaug advanced to the Section 3 tournament being played this week at Sheldon Park in Killingworth.
This was Coginchaug’s first 11-12 baseball title since 2013, and only its fifth ever in the 58-year existence of District 9 (1992, 2005, 2013 and the 1974 Middlefield LL team).
Also, this summer marks just the second time in league history that both the 11-12 Coginchaug baseball and softball teams won district titles in the same year. The last time that happened was in 1992.