CHESHIRE — The Wallingford Silver Storm used a seven-run fifth inning to improve to 3-0 in the postseason and advance to the Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League final on Sunday with a 7-2 victory over the Hamden Miners.
Wallingford, who entered the postseason an 11-12 record, used a strong performance by winning pitcher Alex Sheehan and the big fifth-inning outburst to advance at Alumni Field on the campus of Cheshire Academy.
The Miners (18-9) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fourth and Wallingford (14-12) answered back with seven in the top of the fifth and that’s all they needed to advance to the final.
“They are playing as a team and playing with great fundamentals and are having great at bats,” Silver Storm coach Dennis Boucher said. “Sheehan threw a hell of a game. Good pitching beats good pitching every time. We are playing good baseball and we don’t quit.”
Hamden will now fall into the loser’s bracket of the tournament. Wallingford remains the lone unbeaten squad and will host the championship game on Saturday at a time to be determined. Because they are unbeaten. If Wallingford loses on Saturday, they would play again on Sunday in the double elimination tournament. Wallingford will play the championship game at the opposing field because Cheshire High is likely unavailable.
Sheehan went the distance in the win. He allowed two runs on five hits, two walks and hit one batter and fanned five in an 122-pitch masterpiece.
“Arm felt good today and all of my offspeed pitches were working and the defense was making the plays behind me. That’s the first time I’ve thrown that many pitches in a while.,” Sheehan said. “Everyone is coming together and we are swinging the bats well. We are all working together.”
Hamden entered Tuesday night 3-0 against Wallingford in the regular season. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth.
Hamden loaded the bases with one out in the frame. Paul Vilecco blooped a single to left and Jake Pisano singled up the middle to get things started. Hank Bielen was then plunked by a pitch to load the bases. Mason Balmer then flared a singled to right to chase home Vilecco and Pisano scored to put Hamden up, 2-0.
Hamden lefty Henry Rondon was lifted for Joe Sabo after four innings. Rondon went four scoreless frames on three hits and one walk. He fanned three.
Wallingford went to work against the Miners bullpen scoring seven times and sending 12 batters to the plate in the fifth. The Silver Storm loaded the bases with no outs when Matt Costello and Derek Angell started the frame with back-to-back walks. Justin Piskorski dropped a sac bunt that was thrown away to load the bases.
Mark Smith then lofted an RBI single to left to score Costello with Wallingford’s first run of the game. Sabo was pulled by lefty Gino Tarantino – who inherited a bases-loaded, no-out situation.
John Brucato greeted Tarantino with an RBI single just over the second base bag to score Angell and tie the game, 2-2. Boucher (1-for-2, 2 BB’s) then walked with the bases loaded to score Piskorski and put Wallingford up, 3-2. Josh McDonald then was struck in the back by a pitch and but got an RBI as Smith came around to score Wallingford’s fourth run of the game as the Silver Storm went up, 4-2.
Jack Clancy followed with a fielder’s choice to second base. He beat the throw at first Brucato came around to score on the play as Wallingford extended its big inning and led 5-2.
Ranney then hit an RBI groundout of his own to score Boucher to expand Walilngford’s advantage to 6-2. Costello then had a big one-hopper over the third baseman to score Clancy as Wallingford’s lead continued to grow to 7-2.
“We had some key hits and took some walks,” Coach Boucher said.
Sheehan said he pitched with more confidence after his offense broke out with the big inning.
Wallingford entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and entered Tuesday with a 7-2 win over the Brass City Bombers in Waterbury on Sunday and then traveled to to the Simsbury SaberCats on Tuesday and defeated the hosts, 5-3 to enter Wednesday night to advance to Tuesday’s winner’s bracket final.
In the win over the Bombers, Jaden Canelli earned the victory on the mound. The lefty from Mitchell College was strong all day for the Silver Storm.
Wallingford grinded it out and played small ball. Smith added two doubles to highlight Wallingford’s offense on Sunday.
The win over Simsbury lasted over two days. Wallingford led 3-1 after there innings behind the pitching of Steve Phillips before the rain stalled action on Monday. They returned to Simsbury on Tuesday and Alec Erskine picked up the pitching duties as Wallingford won the game, 5-3.
Jake Boucher and John Brucato had had big hits for the Silver Storm in that win. Jake Ranney also slugged a homer for Wallingford against Simsbury.
“The regular season had so much parody and now it’s the postseason and you play your guys,” Coach Boucher said. “We knew we were ready to make a playoff run no matter our record.”
Simsbury SaberCats 3, Southington Black Knights 2, (8 inn.): Tyler Mackowski provided the game-winning single to lift Simsbury to the win in the elimination game in extra frames.
Simsbury was leading 2-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. In that inning, Southington was down to its final strike – Josh Taylor smacked a two-run home to tie the game, 2-2.
Mackowski’s RBI single came in the top of the eighth inning. Southington put runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the inning, but the Simsbury’s Will Fox struck out the next three hitters to end the game.
Southington’s season ends at 19-9. Tyler Rice went the distance in defeat for Southington. He allowed just three hits overall. He threw 81 pitches in eight innings.
“It was a lot of fun this summer,” Southington coach John Susi said. “It was a great season and a great summer with these guys.”