MERIDEN — The Tri-Town Men's Softball Tournament championship is heading back to Wallingford.
RIPE, Wallingford’s A Division champs, defeated Sliders of Southington, 21-13, in Game 1 and later topped Meriden’s Advantage Home Improvement/THC, 27-14, in the final matchup of Friday night’s three-game championship at at Benjamin J. Nessing Memorial Field to take home the hardware.
“It’s been a long time coming for this team,” RIPE coach Connor Terragna said. “We’ve been trying for five years now. We already have a couple of Tri-Town MVPs on the team. Pat (Harrington) just won his second one. We have a hell of a lot of experience on this team and a lot of good players on this team.”
In between the Wallingford victories, Southington overcame a 12-run deficit to defeat Meriden, 32-25, in Game 2. The win earned second place for Sliders.
All of the action was part of the 26th Annual Tri-Town event, played mostly in a light mist on Friday night.
Wallingford’s Pat Harrington collected the MVP trophy after going 8-for-9 with four home runs, eight runs batted in and five runs scored.
His teammate Keith Sobkowiak also had a huge night, going 8-for-10 with 10 RBI, six runs scored and two dingers.
Donny Crook smacked five home runs in two contests. He finished 6-for-9 with 10 RBI.
Also for RIPE, Gary Costello went 6-for-9 with two homers. (Costello would have had a third but Wallingford had already reached the maximum eight home runs in Game 3 against Meriden.) Kris Selvaggi was also 6-for-9 for Wallingford.
And it all started with a RBI single in the top of the first inning of Game 1 by Harrington.
Southington went up 3-1 in the bottom of the first with a RBI single by Kevin McIntyre and a two-run blast over the right field fence by Andrew Paradis.
Southington then made it 4-1 with a solo blast by Ryan Parent.
Wallingford responded with five runs in the top of the third. Sobkowiak crushed a towering blast that landed on the roof of the building well beyond the left-field fence. Two batters later, Selvaggi crushed a two-run homer to put Wallingford back on top, 6-4.
In the bottom of the third, Gary McIntyre delivered a game-tying two-run homer for Southington and, two frames later, Joe Gaudio smacked a two-run roundtripper that put Sliders back on top, 8-6.
Wallingford answered with a six-run sixth to go up 12-8. RIPE played longball with homers off the bats of Harrington (3-run), Costello (solo) and Crook (2-run).
Southington tied it with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Ryan McIntyre started the scoring with a RBI triple and Paradis delivered a sacrifice fly before Parent tied the game 12-all with a two-run blast.
Then Wallingford batted around and struck for nine runs in the top of the seventh inning to take control.
Selvaggi started the scoring with a two-run single and Harrington followed with his second straight three-run homer. Mike Aquilino made it 19-2 with a two-run blast and Crook capped the frame at 21-12 with a two-run shot.
Southington’s Gaudio tripled and scored on an error to finish the scoring as Wallingford won the opener, 21-13.
Southington stayed on the field for Game 2, and Meriden greeted Sliders with a nine-run top of the first highlighted by Mike Matyka’s three-run homer and a three-run triple by D.J. Riberio.
Southington got two back in the bottom half on a Gaudio RBI single and a Kevin McIntyre sac fly.
Meriden tacked on to its lead with five more runs in the second inning to go up 14-2. Matyka delivered his second longball of the game with a two-run blast and Chuck Chancio added a two-run single.
Southigton’s offense came to life in the bottom of the second with a 10-run frame to close to within 14-10. Parent and Paradis both had two-run blasts in the inning.
Meriden went back up 18-12 with four in the third inning before Southington scored three in the third, two in fourth and four in the fifth to erase a 12-run deficit.
Southington took its first lead in the bottom of the fifth, 21-20, on a Nick Testa RBI double.
Meriden scored two runs in the top of the sixth to go back up, 22-21, with the go-ahead run scoring on a sacrifice fly by Josh Rita.
Southington iced the game with an 11-run bottom of the sixth bookended by home runs from leadoff hitter Josh Confransesco, who slugged a two-run shot to start the inning and a three-run blast to finish it off.
“We kept our heads up knowing that we were the home team and that we had the last chance at-bat,” said Testa, the coach of Sliders. “With this group of guys anything is possible. We’ve been playing together since we’ve been in Little League.”
The night’s finale had little drama as Wallingford scored two runs in the first inning and nine in both the second and third to take a 20-0 lead before Meriden crossed home plate for its first run in the bottom of the third.
Wallingford slugged its maximum eight home runs in the win. Sobkowiak started it with a two-run jack in the first inning. In the second, Crook hit the first of his three dingers of the game.
Selvaggi had two for the game. Harrington hammered a solo blast.
Down 20-0, Meriden did get on the board with five runs in the third on a three-run blast by Kris Hewitt and a two-run poke by Riberio.
Both teams scored four runs apiece in the fourth and Meriden held off being mercied with five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
However, the game eventually ended on the six-inning, 12-run mercy rule as Wallingford turned a double play.
“I fully expected to win and I’m glad we got it done. It feels great,” Terragna said.
RIPE also won the Jimmy V Classic, a prominent tournament in Middletown, earlier this month.
“Our strength is our chemistry,” Terragna said. “We’ve played together a long time now and it just felt right this year. Everyone picked everyone else up. We play hard.”
Advantage Home Improvement/THC coach Dan Terribile is also Tri-Town Tournament director.
“All of the teams showed up with talent this year,” Terribile said. “Southington had a big turnaround from last year and Wallingford always brings power. They always bring a very talented team. Meriden just felt short this year. I’m happy everyone had a good time and we got the games in. That’s the most important thing.”
“I’m going to do whatever I can to keep this alive,” Terribile added. “If Wallingford or Southington wanted to let me bring this tournament to their fields and play their rules, that would be great too. I will continue to do this for the players as long as I can.”
The women’s Tri-Town Tournament, pitting the champs from Southington, Wallingford and Middletown, is slated to play in Middletown on Wednesday, Sept. 6.