Wilton 10's conclude strong LL post-season
It didn’t take long for Wilton manager Glenn Walsh to realize what his team was up against in Tuesday night’s game against Southington.
“You could tell from the moment they walked on the field,” said Walsh about the unbeaten opposition. “They were fundamentally sound and incredibly aggressive offensively. They were just fantastic.”
Southington, the winners’ bracket champ, soundly defeated losers’ bracket winner Wilton, 15-4, to win the Little League Section 1 9/10-year-old title in Bristol. Wilton would have needed to win the game to force a second game to decide the section champion.
“In both districts and sectionals, the kids were really able to forget bad starts.” said Walsh about his players. “That was impressive for a group of 10-year-olds.”
On Tuesday night, Wilton took a 1-0 lead on Lewis Cropper’s RBI single in the bottom of the first. But Southington responded with three runs in the third to go ahead for good and then added seven more runs in the fourth and five in the fifth.
“We were depleted of pitching resources,” said Walsh. “After (starter) John McMahon left after three and two-thirds we didn’t have many options.”
Wilton, the District 1 champion, had advanced to the finals with three straight victories following an opening loss to Fairfield American.
The losers’ bracket rally began with a 16-13 triumph over Prospect. Wilton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Wallace Clark walked and scored following sharp singles by Patrick Cummins and Mikey Roberts, who also scored in the frame.
Prospect bounced back with two runs in the second, punctuated by base hits from Trey Mastropietro, Ryan Montini and Caleb Shirk.
Shut down in the second, Wilton took the field in the third and absorbed an eight-run inning in which Prospect got six hits and multiple walks.
Looking to stop the bleeding, Wilton handed the ball to Cropper. He held Prospect to two runs through three innings, allowing Wilton to stage a furious comeback.
With two outs in the fourth, Cummins ripped a single, Roberts drew a walk, and Cropper was hit by a pitch, setting the stage for red-hot Andrew Travers, who took a fastball deep over the right-center field fence for his second grand slam of the tournament, bringing the Warriors to within 11-7. Ben Wiener drew a walk and scored to make it a three-run game going into the fifth.
Prospect's Vinny Denze hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth, giving his team a 12-8 lead and taking Wilton to the brink of elimination.
Wilton led off the bottom of the fifth with a sharp single by John Walsh, who advanced on a passed ball and scored on a Clark single. Cummins walked, and he and Clark eventually scored, pulling Wilton to within 12-11 entering the final inning.
Cropper dominated a one-two-three top half of the sixth as darkness began to descend. Wilton's Jaden Christl ripped a single to left to lead off the bottom of the sixth and was plated by Roberts, who laced an RBI single after a Prospect error.
The game was then halted by darkness and resumed Friday night. Looking to make its return trip to Bristol as brief as possible, Wilton came out swinging. Travers hit a leadoff double to the wall in center and scored on a double by catcher Shane McCaghey. After a Prospect error and putout of McCaghey, who tried to score on a ground ball, Alex Cocoros scored Christl (reached on error) on an errant fielder's choice and Clark singled for his third hit of the contest, scoring Cocoros. Clark scored the final run of the inning on a throwing error by Prospect's shortstop.
Patrick Cummins took the ball and settled down after giving up a run, striking out two, including the final batter.
Back in Bristol the following morning, Wilton continued to perform under pressure, edging Branford, 4-3.
Travers made his first start on the mound since district play, showing poise and control through four stellar innings, giving up just one run. Wallace Clark came on in relief and shut Branford down in two quick frames, striking out three and walking none.
Offensively, Wilton was led by Cropper, who seemed to be everywhere for the Warriors, scoring twice and going 3-for-3 at the plate with two singles and a double.
Travers continued his hot hitting, lacing an RBI double in a three-run third that also saw an RBI single from McCaghey (2 for 3).
The Wilton defense was anchored by Clark prior to his stint on the mound. In the fourth, with Branford threatening to tie the game, centerfielder Cummins chased down a rocket to the left-centerfield fence with a runner on first. Without missing a beat, Cummins threw a strike to Clark, who fired a bullet to catcher McCaghey, nailing the runner at the plate and preserving the lead for Wilton.
Looking for redemption against the team that sent Wilton to the losers’ bracket, Wilton was able to eliminate Fairfield American, 11-7, on Sunday.
Fairfield started game one winner Richie Kerstetter, and Wilton countered with its game one starter, Mikey Roberts.
Fairfield jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a walk and an RBI double, suggesting that this might be a continuation of the earlier romp over Wilton.
This day would be different, however. Time after time in the bottom half of the first, Wilton worked deep into counts, drawing three walks and lacing timely hits. By the time the dust had settled, Wilton had scored seven runs and was fueled by McCaghey and McMahon, who each had a single and two RBIs in the inning.
In the second, Cropper got things started again with a leadoff single and scored on a long single by McCaghey, who crossed the plate after an error and passed ball. Connor Burke then reached on an error, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on a single by Christl.
Roberts was a workhorse on the mound, battling one of the more dangerous offenses in the section. Taking over in relief, Cummins kept Fairfield off balance in two and two-thirds innings.
But Fairfield would not go down without a fight, loading the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth and the score 11-7. Wilton gave the ball to Anthony Saldutti, who calmly induced a pop-up to Clark at shortstop to end the game.