SOUTH WINDSOR >> Former RCP shortstop Christian Budzik had a knack for making a clutch play or getting a big hit during Post 105’s amazing run to the American Legion World Series in 2014. And it seems like his younger brother is continuing the family tradition.
Noah Budzik’s two out, bases loaded single in the bottom of the eighth and Cole Ogorzalek’s masterful pitching performance lifted RCP past New London, 1-0, Sunday afternoon at Rotary Field in South Windsor.
It was the second straight walk-off win at the Super Regionals for RCP, which is one win away from playing in its’ third consecutive state championship series.
RCP (24-4) will meet the winner of today’s New London and Tolland contest in the regional final on Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) at Rotary Field.
“It’s pitching, defense and a timely hit and this time the timely hit comes from a sophomore who dual rosters with us and has maybe six at-bats all year,” RCP coach T.J. Grande said.
Budzik entered the game in the top of the eighth to play second base after Grande pinch-ran for Tucker Lord in the seventh. Budzik was the starting shortstop for Cromwell High’s Shoreline Conference championship team this past spring and he was more than ready.
“My brother helps me a lot and tells me what to expect,” Budzik said. “He tells me to always stay relaxed and be calm and just play your game.”
After Austin White started the winning rally by drawing a lead off walk, Trevor Whalen, who had the game-winning hit in RCP’s come-from-behind 3-2 win over Avon the day before, moved White to second with a sacrifice bunt. New London reliever Hunter Nadeau then intentional walked Kevin Larkin. But Nadeau also walked Roland Thivierge, loading the bases with one out.
Nadeau, a lefthander, had wiggled out of a first-and-third no out jam in the seventh by getting Cory Baldwin to line into a double play. And it looked like Nadeau was going to escape again in the eighth after striking out Leo Thomas for the second out.
But Budzik had other ideas.
“We know he can make contact,” Grande added. “We know he has a good eye at the plate. Even though he hasn’t played much for me this year, I felt confident with him up there.”
Nadeau fell behind in the count and Budzik lofted a 2-1 pitch into right field for his first career walk-off hit.
“I was just waiting for a fastball,” Budzik explained. “I was just hoping to make contact and put the ball in play.”
New London (25-9) nearly took a 1-0 lead in the sixth on Peter Khoury’s clutch, two out single to left. But Cooper Robinson, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on Justin Marceau’s infield hit, was thrown out at home. Thivierge fielded Khoury’s hit and fired a one-hopper to Whalen, who caught the ball and made a quick swiping tag at Robinson’s head first slide.
“You have to take a chance in a scoreless ball game,” New London coach Tom Vivirito said. “That was a good shot. To be honest, I thought he was in there.”
New London starter Jeremy Santos allowed just three hits before being relieved by Nadeau in the seventh.
“My guy just went up and above expectations,” Vivirito said. “Jeremy stepped in and did a heck’uva job for us. If you told me he was going to throw seven shutout innings for us…that’s unbelievable.”
Santos’ counterpart was also sensational.
Ogorzalek allowed just five hits, walked none and struck out five. He also set New London down in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
“That’s Cole being Cole,” Grande said. “He’s been doing that his whole career. You take it for granted but he’s been so amazing for us the past three years in big games. My guys have been there before and they know with Cole on the mound he’s going to shut them down. And we knew we’d find a way at the end.”