WALLINGFORD — After coming up short in the Northeast Regional qualifying tournament, No. 3 Wallingford Post 187 opened the American Legion state tournament with a dominating 9-2 win over No. 14 Glastonbury at Pat Wall Field on Tuesday.
Paced by starting pitcher Parker Hunter, Wallingford (18-7) rebounded after allowing an early run and never looked back. The Cardinals advance in the single-elimination tournament to host No. 6 Trumbull on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
“I told them we have to come into every game as if it were their last and give it everything they got, because for some guys this might be the last time they play baseball,” said Wallingford head coach Chris Bishop.
Glastonbury drew first blood, but it proved to be just a scratch.
Shaw Pedemonti reached on an infield single and was driven home on a single to left field by Cameron Pedemonti for a 1-0 lead.
Wallingford immediately jumped on Glastonbury starter Myles Lushing in the bottom half. Christopher Barkasy, Justin Hackett and Joe Amarone all drew walks to start the inning.
With the bases loaded, Billy Gorry roped a RBI single to center to tie the game at 1 before Zach Blest brought in another run with a single of his own.
A third run came across when Aidan Weir drew a bases loaded walk.
With the newly acquired 3-1 lead, Hunter settled in and struck out the side in the next inning.
The Cardinals continued to add to their lead in the home half of the second. Barkasy walked and later crossed home on a passed ball.
Hunter plated an additional run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly that scored Justin Lucibello, who reached on a walk and advanced to third on a steal and a passed ball.
After a 1-2-3 inning for Hunter, Wallingford continued to rack up runs in the fourth. Barkasy was brought home on a long sac fly hit by Hackett. Amarone reached on an infield single and ultimately scored on a passed ball.
Facing a 7-1 deficit, Glastonbury finally found an answer in Jack Dolan, who laced a single down the left field line before reaching third on a throwing error. Dolan then scored on a groundout by Dan Cantafi.
To put the finishing touches on the victory, Lucibello smacked a two-run single over the shortstop’s head to make the final score 9-2.
Drawing walks may have played a pivotal role in the game, but it wasn’t Wallingford’s initial emphasis.
“It was a good adjustment by our guys after that first inning and seeing what their guy was doing on the mound,” said Bishop. “We talked constantly between innings about making adjustments and what pitchers were doing.”
Hunter pitched four innings before leaving with one out in the fifth. He finished with six strikeouts while allowing only four hits.
Nick Velardi came on and threw scoreless relief. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out one.
“I thought the guys played well today,” said Bishop. “They came out and took care of business. It was nice to get Parker on the mound and he threw well.”