BASEBALL: Platt holds fourth straight foe to a single run and rises to No. 5 in Class L

MERIDEN — The Platt Panthers baseball team improved to 13-3 with a 3-1 victory over the Lewis Mills Spartans on Friday at Platt High School.

“Their pitcher was locked down today,” noted Platt head coach Bryan McCarty. “The biggest difference is, our pitcher was a little better today.”

That pitcher was senior ace Brandon Cahill, who picked up the victory while Lewis Mills’ Jayden Longdin got the loss.

Cahill struck out nine, allowed just one run on three hits and one walk.

“He was phenomenal,” McCarty said. “I mean, we rode him today. He’s a bulldog.”

It was the second 3-1 victory in as many days for the Panthers, who beat Berlin on Wednesday night at Sage Park when Cahill got the final out in relief of Ommy Velez, who went 6 2/3.

The Panthers have now won four straight games and, in each one, limited the opposition to one run.

“That’s what we’re here for: to beat the good teams, beat the bad teams,” said Cahill. “We don’t go into any game looking at records. We come in here, we play our baseball and the boys did a good job.”

Matthew Merrigan accounted for two RB against Lewis Mills (10-6). Velez had three hits and scored two runs.

“Those two have a great connection,” McCarty said of Merrigan and Velez. “When they’re on, we’re super-tough to beat.”

Cahill and the Panthers allowed the visiting Spartans just one hit in the first inning. Cahill got his first strikeout and the Panthers got off the field fairly quickly.

In the bottom half, Platt’s Jake Baker drew a walk and Velez followed with a single that advanced Baker to third. Velez stole a base to put runners on second and third, but Longdin killed the threat by striking out the next three Panthers.

Colby Cables led off the Lewis Mills second with a single, but that’s all the success the Spartans mustered. Platt recorded three straight outs, including on a deep fly ball and a double play.

Lewis Mills answered back with good defense as well to get out of an inning that two Panthers —Trent D’Aniello and Tucker Sperry —get hit by pitches.

In the bottom of the third, things got interesting. With two outs, Velez singled and advanced to second with a steal.

Merrigan was at bat and crushed a line drivethat brought in Velez for the game’s first run.

“I had two strikes on me, so I know the at-bat isn’t over; I could still do some damage,” Merrigan said. “I definitely wanted to give my team some momentum, so I went out there and tried my best on the swing.”

Defense was stout for both teams in the fourth. Nobody got on base as there were no hits or walks on either side.

Moriarty drew a walk in the top of the fifth, but Cahill retired the next three batters with a strikeout. Platt’s defense was near flawless at this point.

On offense, Platt found some more success in the home half of the fifth, again with two outs. Baker kept the inning alive with a single, Velez connected for another hit and a wild pitch moved them up to second and third.

Another wild pitch brought in Baker.

Then Merrigan repeated what he did at his previous at-bat. He crushed a ball to right field to drive in Velez. Platt had a 3-0 lead after five innings.

“I just hoped the ball would drop,” Merrigan said. “I knew if it dropped Ommy would score again, and it did.”

The Spartans finally got on the board in the sixth. The second batter, Thomas O’Connell, got on base via a walk and, one out later, Longdin singled him home.

And that was it. The rest of the game saw minimal action. Cahill closed out his complete-game performance by retiring the Spartans in order in the seventh.

It was Cahill’s second win the of the season over Lewis Mills. The first game, though, was much different. Platt won that one, 18-10.

“This game, I threw more strikes; last game, I threw too many balls,” Cahill said. “We knew they had good hitting coming into the game, but I knew I had to get ahead of every batter. Good teams take advantage of getting ahead of the count.”

The Panthers have four games left in the regular season. They travel to Wethersfield on Monday, host South Windsor on Wednesday and visit Bloomfield on Thursday before the finale at Ceppa Field against Maloney on May 23.

Beyond that lies the state tournament. Platt currently stands No. 5 in the Class L rankings.

“Every game we just try to compete, starting with every pitch,” said McCarty. “That was our goal at the start of the season and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Just try to compete every pitch.”


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