STAMFORD >> After surviving a tough series with Orange in the regionals, Branford was prepared for an even tougher time in the super regionals, according to Tyler Forgione.
“It forced us to play as a team,” Forgione said. “We’re together.”
Forgione had four RBIs to lead Branford past Berlin 7-1 in Game 1 of the super regionals at Cubeta Stadium on Saturday. With the win, Branford will play Cheshire, which defeated Stamford 5-4 in 10 innings, today at 4:30 p.m.
Berlin, which topped Oakville in the regionals, will face Stamford today at 1 p.m. Branford rallied in the regionals after getting shut out in its first game against Orange. Branford won the next two, and coach Rich Balzano said his team knew what was at stake against Berlin.
“We’ve played (Berlin) before and they’ve knocked us out before,” Balzano said. “We knew they were good and we knew we were going to face their No. 1 pitcher.”
Branford got to ace Taylor Luciani early on when Forgione laced a two-run single in the bottom of the first. Branford pitcher Dawson Frawley went six scoreless innings allowing only two hits. Dan Driscoll relieved Frawley to close it out.
“These are our young pitchers,” Balzano said. “We were hoping we could get through this game with those guys and our regular rotation from here. They delivered.”
After both teams struggled to score runs, Branford’s bats woke up in the seventh as nine players got up to bat. Branford had six hits in the inning and pushed four more runs across to make it 6-0. Chris Stankiewicz led off the big inning with a home run and Forgione put the finishing touches on it with another two-run single. But the Stankiewicz solo shot got the ball rolling.
“It sparked our whole offense to get going,” Forgione said.
Branford center fielder Kyle Hart ended the game with a running catch and slammed into the wall. It was just one of his three outstanding defensive plays. He made two diving catches earlier to rob Berlin of base hits.
“There’s a saying we have,” Balzano said. “Three quarters of the earth is covered by water; the other quarter is covered by Kyle Hart.”
BERLIN 000 000 010 — 1 5 1
BRANFORD 200 000 41x — 7 12 1
Berlin: Taylor Luciani (L), Nick Naples (6) and Mitchell Williams.
Branford: Dawson Frawley (W), Dan Driscoll (6) and William Massey.