WALLINGFORD — Back home at Pat Wall Field on Sunday, Wallingford Post 187 bounced back in the American Legion baseball state tournament with no shortage of offense in beating Meriden 7-2 in a Pod H elimination game.
One day after being shut out 4-0 by Naugatuck in their tournament opener, the Cardinals erupted for five runs in the bottom of the second inning to take control against Post 45.
The win keeps Wallingford alive. Post 187, now 15-12, plays again Tuesday at Trumbull. Tuesday’s survivor advances to Wednesday’s Pod H final at Naugatuck.
Meriden’s season came to a close at 11-18, though Post 45 does play host to the Southern Division super regional as well as the state finals at Ceppa Field.
On Sunday at Pat Wall, Meriden jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. A RBI single by Owen Papciak down the left line brought in Nicholas Priebe.
Wallingford came storming back in the bottom of the second with the five-spot stemming from four walks, a two-run double by Anthony Cretella and a pair of RBI singles by Patrick Christensen and Russell Edeen.
The inning also saw a successful double steal, resulting in Joseph Amarone scoring from third.
“Baseball is a game of numbers and, eventually, those numbers will work for you,” said Wallingford coach John Amendola. “Anthony [Cretella] hitting the double down 0-2 in the count was big. That is a really big at-bat, but you know you just have to keep fighting it.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Wallingford added to the lead on a RBI single by Justin Hackett to score Anthony Romano, who was pinch-running after an error allowed Edeen to reach base.
“We knew coming in, with the heat, we had to take advantage whenever we could, so any chance we got we tried to get the ball on the ground and force their team to make plays,” said Amendola. “Fly balls and strikeouts aren’t making the other team work. You have to put the ball in play and make them work and let them make mistakes.”
Meriden starting pitcher Tanner Raymond went 1 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on two hits and four walks. Raymond handed the ball over to Brian Carabetta, who combined with former Wilcox Tech teammate Sean Dupuis to finish up.
Wallingford starter and winning pitcher Caden Cloutier threw 56 pitches through 3 2/3 innings; He allowed six hits, one walk and one run while striking out three.
“At the beginning of the year, he was at the back of the rotation, but as the year has gone by he’s gone out and built up his stamina and pitch count,” Amendola said of Cloutier. “He pitched Tuesday night against Cheshire and he pitched the best game we’ve had all season. He’s been getting better and better and better all season long.”
Nicholas Verlardi came into the game in relief to lock it down, surrendering only three hits.
Wallingford was led offensively by Christensen who singled twice, laid down a sacrifice bunt, scored a run and drove in two.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble with hitting the past couple weeks, so we had to implement small-ball to try and get some runs across the board, and then some of the bats woke up, too, which helped out a lot,” said Anthony Cretella.
Priebe and Ethan Brazel had two hits apiece for Meriden.
Cheshire 2, Stratford 1: Post 92 advanced to the Pod E final by scoring its second straight walk-off victory at Burt Leventhal Field, this time on a bases-loaded hit by pitch.
Cheshire coughed up a 1-0 lead against Stratford in the sixth inning, but plated the winning run when Andrew DeClement was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh.
It was the second straight Cheshire hit batsman. Rob Roles got plunked to load the bases after Ryan Strollo singled with one out and Ian Battipaglia followed with a walk.
Roles went the distance to earn the pitching win. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out three.
Roles also scored the first Cheshire run in the second inning. He singled, took second on a bunt by DeClement, then scored on a single by Ben Shadeck.
The win was the ninth straight for Post 92. Now 24-3, Cheshire will host the Pod E final on Wednesday with a loss to give.