The No. 2 Berlin Redcoats met up with the top-seeded Daniel Hand Tigers Saturday night to play for the CIAC Class L state baseball championship surrounded by a sea of fans on a warm summer night.
Unfortunately for the Redcoats, they matched up against Hand hurler David Antonetti, who allowed only one hit and two walks en route to a 3-0 Tigers win at Palmer Field in Middletown.
The Berlin lineup was made up of seven right-handed hitters, giving Antonetti a slight advantage. The junior was able to snap the curveball inside on those righties, which was effective from the first to the seventh inning. The Redcoats were frozen by that curveball, which found the inside corner for called strikes several times.
There were a few hard-hit balls against Antonetti, but the Hand defense had his back. The Tigers did not commit a single error.
“You saw (senior center fielder Colin Telford) out here tracking down everything,” Antonetti said. “He saved me like four runs and a ton of hits. The no errors is the biggest thing, and I just have all the faith in the world in them that they’re going to make the play.”
The Redcoats, however, had a couple miscues in the field that cost them.
With the game a scoreless affair, Hand senior third baseman Anthony Depino singled to begin the bottom of the fourth. With one runner on, senior shortstop Jack Pireaux then hit a sharp comebacker that senior pitcher Connor Gileau fielded cleanly. But junior first baseman Kasey Oullette received the toss away from the bag, and all runners were safe.
Gileau hit the next batter, which loaded the bases with no one out. After a sacrifice opened up the scoring, junior second baseman Evan Mastrobattisto hit a line drive into the left-center gap. The shot got by junior center fielder Jamie Palmese, allowing two more runs to score, making it a 3-0 ballgame – the final tally.
Berlin coach Leo Veleas emphasized that pitching and defense is how you win games, but the lack of offense was the Redcoats’ undoing on this day.
“If we get a few hits here and there, who knows,” the veteran coach said. “It is what it is. One hit ain’t gonna get it done, I don’t care who you play for.”
“You can pitch as good as you want, you don’t score any runs, you ain’t gonna win,” said Veleas. “Simple as that.”
Outside that fateful fourth inning, Gileau allowed only three baserunners. He was rather efficient as well, resulting in him pitching all six defensive innings for the Redcoats.
Gileau did his job, but his counterpart was just too tough. Through the first four innings, Antonetti threw only 38 pitches and retired all but one batter – Palmese, who singled up the middle.
Of the 13 batters Berlin sent to the plate in those four innings, only two saw more than four pitches in a single at-bat. Antonetti’s only two walks came in the final inning, when he had thrown 60-plus pitches.
Antonetti was caught by Chris Engelhart.
“I want to make sure to give Chris credit,” Hand coach Travis Lapointe said. “He’s as much of our pitching staff as our pitchers are, because he calls a great game. They made that adjustment, they found what was available to them, and he just hit the spot all day.”