WALLINGFORD — With his right arm, Wallingford Post 187 pitcher Kyle Simmons dazzled throughout Wednesday’s American Legion state tournament game at Pat Wall Field against Trumbull.
With his bat, and then his legs, Simmons ultimately won the game, 2-1, in walk-off fashion.
Simmons doubled home Parker Hunter with the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, then came across with the winning run on a Trumbull throwing error.
The victory sends the Cardinals on to the Southern Region semifinals, which will be played Thursday at Meriden’s Ceppa Field. Wallingford, the No. 3 seed, faces No. 2 Danbury in the opening game at 4 pm. Both teams are 19-7.
On Wednesday night at Pat Wall, Simmons and the Cardinals were locked in a pitchers’ duel with Trumbull’s Brandon Csizmadia, a left-hander who pitches at Roger Williams.
The game was scoreless until the top of the sixth inning, when Trumbull’s Jake Gruttadauria roped a double to left-center to bring home Justin Delaney, who had reached on a walk and stole second base.
After coming up empty in the sixth, the Cardinals still trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, down to their final three outs.
Hunter was able to draw a leadoff walk to set the stage for the comeback. After a sacrifice bunt from Aidan Weir moved Hunter into scoring position, Simmons drove a ball into the gap in right-center for a RBI double.
With two outs, Chris Barkasy put the ball in play to third base. The throw to first was wide and sailed all the way to the fence, allowing Simmons to cross homewith the winning run.
“We made some adjustments and changed our approach, said Wallingford coach Chris Bishop. “There was never any doubt.”
Simmons’ start on the mound was nothing short of a gem. He pitched six innings, yielding only two hits and three walks while punching out 12 batters, seven of which were consecutively.
“Kyle was tremendous tonight; this was by far his best outing of the year,” said Bishop, who also tipped his cap to catcher Bill Gorry. “Billy called a great game behind the plate.”
Nick Iannone was called to relieve Simmons in the top of the seventh. Iannone struck out two of the three batters he faced.
“It was huge for him, not just the team,” Bishop said of Simmons. “He missed his entire (2020) high school season and our season with an arm injury, so it was good to see him back on the mound.”
Danbury advanced to Thursday’s Southern Region semifinal with a 10-0 rout of Hamden. Madison and Newington meet in Thursday’s second semifinal at Ceppa. The winners return to Meriden for the regional final on Friday.