SOUTHINGTON – On the day of Major League Baseball’s Midsummer Classic the 12U Southington South All-Stars were shining bright at Rec Field.
Southington South won the opening round of the Connecticut Sectionals on Carl Verderame Field, 5-2, and they did so on a walkoff grand slam by S.J. Switala. Switala finished the game 4-for-4 and the dinger was his 23rd of the season.
“That was my biggest home run yet,” Switala said while holding his home run ball. “I was worried. I was down 0-2 and I was able to get a good swing. That was huge...It was amazing running around the bases.”
Southington (8-1) was down to its final strike. Switala stepped up to the dish with the bases loaded and South down 2-1. On an 0-2 fastball, the righty slugger blasted one over the centerfield fence and ignited a celebration in the win over Burlington-Harwinton Little League. All five of Southington’s runs came with two outs.
Southington, the District 5 champs, will now face Shelton, the third team in Section II, on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. at Rec Park. A win tomorrow will clinch South’s ticket to the next round. Burlington-Harwinton will play Shelton on Thursday.
Tuesday night’s game was a pitchers dual behind a gem from B-H’s Nathan Gryniuk (5 shutout innings) and five combined shutout innings from Southington’s Sawyer Trudeau and Tyler Tortora.
Prior to the fifth, both teams threatened. Southington worked out of a bases loaded no-out situation in the fourth. The Burlington-Harwington offense had leadoff singles to start the frame against Trudeau, the Southington starter. Tortura, a lefty, was summoned from the bullpen. He walked the first batter he faced before retiring the next three batters on two ground outs and a strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
Southington had loaded the bases in the second. Anderson was hit by a pitch. Jake Kelly legged out an infield hit and Ben MacCallum walked to load the bases with two outs. Burlington-Harwinton (7-2) third baseman Zach D’lorio made a slick play on a one-hopper off the bat of Trudeau to end the threat.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning – when Southington scratched across a run on three, two-out singles.
Switala delivered his third hit of the game with a bloop single to left to get things started. Tortora followed through with an groundball single up the middle. Tyler Poutouves then laced an infield single off of the opposing third baseman and it trickled into shallow left field and allowed Switala to come around and score.
Switala, the Southington closer, was called upon to protect the 1-0 advantage. However, B-H scored twice while down to its final out to take a 2-1 lead. The rally for the visitors started when Ethan Poland delivered a one-out single. Niko Morgan then walked. Both moved up on a pass ball as Switala was firing 70 MPH fastballs. With two outs, the runners were on second and third and both came around to score on another past ball as B-H went up, 2-1.
However, Southington fought to the last out. B-H reliever Luke Prespare retired the first two Southington batters on grounders back to him.
Connor Blumetti and Nick Drury worked walks and Trudeau loaded the bases with an infield single. That allowed Switala to get a chance at the dish and he took advantage.
“For us, our top four guys hit home runs and if one guy got on we had a shot. I knew their was a shot,” Southington South coach Stan Switala said. “This is a huge win for us going into tomorrow. We will see what happens.”
Drew Anderson is starting tomorrow for Southington against Shelton.