AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL: Cheshire regains the touch and walks it off against Hamden 

AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL: Cheshire regains the touch and walks it off against Hamden 

MERIDEN — That walk-off magic that abandoned Cheshire on Saturday? She was back on the Post 92 bench front and center on Sunday.

Twice down to Zone 2 rival Hamden in a Southern Division Super Regional elimination game at Ceppa Field, Cheshire twice rallied, ultimately walking off to a 4-3 victory on Ben Schena’s two-run double.

The victory keeps Post 92 alive and kicking in the American Legion state tournament at 26-4.

Coach John Escoto’s squad looks to keep it going on Monday night in a rematch with Naugatuck at Ceppa at 6:30 p.m. (Naugatuck beat Cheshire 2-0 in eight innings on Saturday.)

The winner of Cheshire-Naugatuck II advances to meet Stamford in the Super Regional finals starting on Tuesday needing to win twice.

For now, Cheshire can savor the sort of win it has come to know so well. Post 92 is 4-1 in state tournament play and all but one of the wins has been of the walk-off variety.

The buildup to the latest drama began in the bottom sixth. Down 2-0 after Hamden had snapped a scoreless tie with two runs in the top half, Cheshire promptly rallied.

Schena got it going with a double. Eli Battipaglia and Rob Roles followed with RBI singles to even things up at 2.

Hamden scrapped back ahead 3-2 in the top of the seventh, then brought in Michael Aceto to close it out for starter Brendan Kirck. 

Cheshire didn’t waste any time against the fresh arm. Battipaglia led off with a walk. Paul Villecco reached on an error. Both came racing home when Schena crushed a ball to the right field fence.

There was no play at the plate. Schena was already in celebration mode as he pulled into second and Villecco crossed with the winning run.

The game-winner capped a monster day at the plate for Schena. The shortstop went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a single.

The game-winner was also a bit of atonement. Schena’s throwing error had enabled Hamden to take its 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh.

Prior to the sixth, the neighboring posts had been locked in a pitchers’ duel between Hamden’s Kirck and Cheshire’s Michael Bankowski. Both went five scoreless through five innings before getting touched for two runs each in the sixth.

Bankowski, at one point, retired 12 straight. He allowed six hits and struck out three.

After Bankowski allowed a leadoff single in the seventh, Battipaglia relieved in the seventh and wound up with the win. The run he allowed in the seventh was unearned.