STAMFORD >> Cheshire’s Kyle Waldron sat in the dugout during game two of the American Legion state championship series and watched his teammates miss a chance to clinch their first ever state title.
Waldron made sure Cheshire’s second opportunity was going to be a memorable one.
The 6-5 righthander went the distance in the decisive third game as Cheshire captured the state crown with a 3-0 victory over Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland on Saturday at Cubeta Stadium.
“It’s probably the best outing of the year for me,” said Waldron. “I had confidence in all of my pitches and I was able to throw them in all different kind of counts. I didn’t want it to get to a third game. It feels really good. I’m just glad we won.”
Waldron scattered six hits, walked none and struck out three.
“To throw up nine zeroes…that’s pretty good stuff,” said Cheshire coach Bill Robertson.
Cheshire first baseman Mike Purcell, the former Xavier star now at Rollins College, was named the tournament MVP. Purcell, whose RBI single in the second inning gave Cheshire a 2-0 lead, went 6-for-13 in the three-game series.
“It’s amazing,” said Purcell. “We came back this year with one mission, to get back to this stadium, and it feels great to follow through. We knew Waldron was going to throw great and he threw even better than that.”
Purcell also had a single in the first inning as Cheshire grabbed a 1-0 lead when Jay Schaff drew a bases loaded walk against RCP starter Tom Seaver (seven innings, six hits, eight strikeouts).
In the second, Cheshire took advantage of another walk, an infield error and Purcell’s two out RBI single to center for a 2-0 advantage.
Cheshire, however, left an incredible 17 men on base against Seaver and reliever Tucker Lord and couldn’t extend their lead.
But Dan Schock ripped a two out RBI double to the left field fence, scoring Matt Hickey from first base to give Cheshire a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth.
Brendan Sullivan went 3-for-4, and Cory Baldwin and Chris Bouchard had one hit apiece for RCP.
Logan Lessard gave RCP some hope with one out single in the ninth. But Waldron completed his gem by getting a ground out and strikeout before being mobbed by his teammates.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” said Robertson. “I’m actually thrilled for the kids because they put a lot into this and I had kids come back this year. You never know what some college kids are going to do. They do other stuff and play other places and they came back. And that makes it really special.”
RCP (24-8) forced the decisive third game with a 7-5 win earlier in the day. Jake Regula went five innings to earn the win, with a save from Lord, while RCP’s offense was led by Bouchard (three hits), Baldwin, Alex Ramirez and Cole Ogorzalek, who each had two hits.
“We came back ready to play,” said RCP coach Jay Hickey. “We wanted to get a chance. It was disappointing last night (a 10-5 loss in game one). Regula was on a pitch count today and Tucker pitched great in both games. ”
Cheshire (31-11) and RCP have both qualified, along with host Middletown, for the Northeast Regional tournament (Aug. 7-11). Cheshire will face the Maine champion at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, while RCP meets Dover (N.H.) in the second game of the morning doubleheader.
“Winning this gives us a lot of momentum,” said Purcell. “We want to come back and play well again on Thursday.”