CHESHIRE >> Midnight didn’t strike for Cinderella Wednesday, but the clock is ticking.
Zone 3 champion Cheshire struck for four runs in the fifth inning, wiping out the 75ers’ two-run lead, and went on to win, 5-2, putting Middletown one game from elimination.
The two teams will play today at 2:30 p.m. at Burt Leventhal Field at Cheshire High School. Middletown, which got to this state tournament series with two stunning upsets over Trumbull and Monroe, must sweep the doubleheader to stay alive and advance.
Middletown ace Scott Marks wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, then breezed through the next three innings, thanks to a brilliant double play in the third started by shortstop Jake Alonzo. He fielded a hot shot by Pat Downey in the hole, got the ball to Jared Pflaumer at second who made a great turn to nip Downey at first.
But it all unraveled for Marks and the 75ers in the fifth. It started with an infield error by Pflaumer leading off the inning, Middletown’s first error in 22 innings. The boot seemed harmless as Marks got an out on a bouncer, but then the roof fell in.
A single by Jay Strollo (2-for-4), a walk to Ben DeLaubell and an RBI single by Adam von Fischer (2-for-3) cut the lead to 2-1. Downey then got the big hit of the game, a double far over the head of left fielder Keith LaChance that cleared the bases.
“Scott ran out of gas, but he was pitching on short rest,” Middletown coach Tim D’Aquila said. “He pitched Saturday in 95 degree weather, then threw an inning Sunday. We win or lose with Scotty and, hey, it was one big hit that did it.”
In five innings, Marks was touched for three earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Middletown got to Cheshire starter and winner Liam Davey for two in the fourth.
With one gone, Colin Horn was hit by a pitch and Pflaumer followed with a base hit. With two outs, Nick Brenchak was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jack Higgs walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run and the 75ers got a second run when first baseman von Fischer booted Nevin Sanchez’ ground ball.
With two outs and the bases still loaded, D’Aquila ordered Billy Egan to lay down a bunt — for which Davey undoubtedly was grateful — and he bunted back to Davey who made the easy throw to first to end the inning.
“I thought Davey did a nice job, although he didn’t have his best stuff,” Cheshire coach Bill Robertson said. “He had one rough inning, but he got out of it. In the end, we got eight hits and five of them were from guys who have been through all of this.”
Davey said he was confident throughout. “I felt great,” he said. “In that one inning we had that error, but stuff happens. That’s baseball. I wasn’t worried down 2-0; I knew we would score.”
Davey went six innings. giving up just the one earned run, allowing five hits, striking out three and walking two. Ryan Mosteller threw a 1-2-3 seventh to earn a save.
Middletown had a scoring opportunity in the sixth inning, but some bad baserunning killed the inning. With one out Higgs reached on an error by shortstop Altrim Kabashi. Egan then bounced to second for the out at first, but Higgs rounded third too far and was thrown out by von Fischer as he tried to get back to the bag.
D’Aquila argued long and loud — although Higgs appeared to be out — and finally convinced the base umpire to check with the plate ump, who upheld the call.
Cheshire got an insurance run in the sixth off reliever Dennis Beaudry. He walked the leadoff man, which is never a good idea, and after he was bunted up, Dom Shumilla doubled to left over LaChance’s head for the run.
Robertson wasn’t sure that the week off helped or hurt, but Davey knew.
“We needed the break,” he said. “I know I did; the days off really helped me.”
RCP 9, West Hartford 1 >> Cole Ogorzalek scattered five hits over six innings and Austin White went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead Post 105 past West Hartford in game one of the best of three regional series Wednesday at Cromwell’s Monnes Field.
Kevin Larkin and Roland Thivierge had two hits apiece for RCP (21-4).
Ogorzalek struck out three and walked none. RCP took advantage of five errors to score six unearned runs.
Daniel Roth went 2-for-3 for West Hartford (18-9).