CHESHIRE >> Cheshire had its chances, and squandered them. It loaded the bases twice, but failed to get anyone in. Still, Nick Sansone knew that eventually Post 92 would come through.
Sansone lined a single to center field to score Jason Strollo with the go-ahead and eventual winning run in a 3-2, 10-inning triumph over Hamden in Game 2 of an American Legion state tournament best-of-three second-round series. Cheshire will play Monroe at Middletown’s Palmer Field in the Southern Division semifinals.
Sansone never stopped believing.
“We saw we had opportunities,” he said. “We kept getting opportunities and we weren’t coming through. But, we knew with these opportunities we would eventually come through and get the runs we needed.”
In the top of the tenth, Strollo walked and Dave Villeco was hit by a pitch from reliever Zach Morgillo. Sansone then came up and laced a one-out double into left center.
“He’s a pull hitter,” said Cheshire coach Bill Robertson of the lefty Sansone. “For him to go to the left-center field gap; good piece of hitting.”
Sansone says he was just looking for something out over the plate to do something with.
“I got an outside pitch and I just went with it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hamden Post 88’s run comes to an end. Hamden got mercy ruled 13-2 on Wednesday in Game 1 after committing five errors. Despite playing a better game, it was not enough to stop the defending state champion. Post 88 coach Ray Guarino said his team fought, which was all he could ask from them.
“After yesterday I didn’t know what to expect,” Guarino said. “But, my guys, they let everything out there on the field today.”
And Guarino’s group looked to be in control and headed for a win-or-go-home Game 3 after taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and holding the advantage until the eighth. Jim Magson plated Eli Camner with an RBI single and Chris Colon reached on a fielder’s choice grounder that scored Sam Kirschenbaum in the first inning.
Cheshire closed the gap to 2-1 in the second after Strollo scored on a throwing error by Magson, the Hamden shortstop. Strollo was on second and wheeled all the way home after Magson’s errant throw got past the first baseman on a Villeco ground ball.
From the third inning on, Hamden starter Nick Tagliaferri did just enough to keep Post 92 off the board. In the top of the fifth, after Villeco and Luke Gaudio singled and Wes Robertson walked to load the bases with two outs, Tagliaferri got Register All-Stater Cooper Mrowka to pop out to short.
The bases were loaded with one out in the top of the sixth and again Tagliaferri worked out of the jam. He got Sansone to fly out and struck out Gaudio.
Cheshire finally broke through in the eighth. Pat Downey doubled to left and Adam vonFischer brought him home with a line drive single to right to tie things up at 2.
“My starter was great,” Guarino said. “Maybe I left him in an inning too long.”
With new life and a tie game, Cheshire starter Connor Davey was steady for Post 92. He went all 10 innings but only struck out two batters, inducing nine groundouts and 11 flyouts.
“I’ve been pitching to contact all year, just letting my defense do the work for me,” Davey said. “It’s all on them.”
And his defense got it done late. In the bottom of the eighth, Altrin Kabashi started a 4-6-3 double play to end a threat and in the ninth Davies recorded two flyouts and a groundout.
After Sansone’s 10th-inning RBI, the defense closed it out as Mrowka started a 6-4-3 double play to end the series and Hamden’s season.
CHESHIRE 3, HAMDEN 2
Cheshire 010 000 010 1 — 3 8 1
Hamden 200 000 000 0 — 2 8 3
Nick Tagliaferri, Zach Morgillo (8) and Chris Colon; Connor Davey and Wes Robertson.
WP: Davey; LP: Morgillo; 2B: Pat Downey (C), Jason Strollo (C), Nick Sansone (C).