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SOUTHINGTON — Yes, the Southington baseball team was ready for prime time Friday night.
As soon as the sun went down, the Blue Knights started lighting up the Fontana Field scoreboard en route to a 10-0 mercy-rule CCC West crossover victory over Avon.
With the sun setting, Southington scored a run in the second inning. Then, under the lights, the Blue Knights broke the game open with five runs in the third inning.
Southington (8-0) scored the 10th run to eventually end things early with four more runs in the fourth.
Devan Bade did more than enough for the Blue Knights on the mound, though the flurry of Southington runs over the third and fourth innings came as something of a surprise to the senior righthander, who wasn’t alone in expecting a competitive CCC contest.
Avon entered the game unbeaten in CCC play (4-0) and 2-0 in the CCC West-Patriot Division. Southington is now 6-0 in CCC games and 4-0 in the CCC West-Colonial.
“It was a weird mercy win, because they are a very good ball club,” Bade said. “It seemed like a battle every batter.
“But we also played a great game,” Bade added. “It was windy out. We kept the ball low, hit a lot of doubles, and hit the ball very well tonight.”
Bade said he never felt better on the mound, and it showed. The senior allowed just three hits and struck out eight.
Southington banged out seven hits in just four trips to the plate. With the wind gusting to 40 miles an hour at times, every fly ball was an adventure.
The Blue Knights got two hits each by center fielder Jack McManus, who had a pair doubles to the fence, Bade and Dante D’Amore. Both Bade and D’Amore tripled.
Four errors by the Falcons (5-3 overall) contributed to nine Southington runs over the third and fourth innings.
The victory kept the state’s top-ranked Class LL team unbeaten. The Blue Knights are right back in action Saturday as they host Glastonbury at 1 p.m.
“We strung some hits together and got some runs,” Southington head coach Charlie Lembo said. “Bade buckled down and we played great defense behind him. It was a windy day, a tough day to pitch, but we hit the ball hard and put some pressure on them with our baserunning, and that was it.”
Southington batted around in the third inning, but Avon sophomore starter Alex Grant didn’t do himself any favors in the inning.
The lefty walked the first two Blue Knights and then compounded his problems with an errant pickoff throw to first base that allowed Justin Chiulli to score Southington’s first run of the inning from second base.
Chiulli had walked to lead off the inning. Drew Belcourt, who walked after Chiulli, then scored on a deep triple to center field by Bade.
Bade’s hit was one of only two in the inning by the Blue Knights, who took advantage of two Avon errors and three wild pitches by Grant.
D’Amore then provided the big blast in the fourth inning, tripling to the right field fence to put Southington up 8-0.
D’Amore made it 9-0 seconds later on an Avon throwing error on an attempt to pick him off at third base. McManus then made it 10-0 when he doubled, stole third base and came home on another throwing error.
Southington started the scoring in the second inning on an infield hit by junior Jackson Rusiecki. McManus scored on the play after leading off the inning with a double to left.
Grant tried to keep Southington off balance with a mixture of off-speed pitches, but he lasted just three innings. He was relieved by a pair of pitchers in the fourth, neither of whom were able to cool off Southington.
Bade, meanwhile, kept Avon scoreless by working around a two-out double by Emmett Borenstine in the first inning. He then gave up another double past a diving Rusiecki in the second inning.
The ball got past Rusiecki and rolled to the fence, but the batter, Jesse Bernaducci, injured his knee trying to stop himself between first and second base, and was tagged out to end the second inning.
Southington also turned a nice double play in the fourth inning after Bade gave up a leadoff single.