NORTH HAVEN — For a moment, Middletown Post 75 right hander Chris Mormile was worried that something bad was going to happen to him again.
Three days after blowing a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mormile was on the same mound at DeMayo Field Tuesday night. This time he had a slim 1-0 lead, but he was looking out at left field after North Haven pinch-hitter Andrew Laudano roped a double past left fielder Cal Pitruzello. Mormile took a look as North Haven baserunner Hunter Garthwait flew around third base heading for home wondering if déjà vu was going to happen.
Pitruzello’s throw sailed over the heads of both third baseman Tyler Lemay and shortstop Luke Garofalo. But Connor Cardi ran over to grab the overthrow and relayed it to catcher Ryan Famiglietti, who tagged Garthwait out at the plate to preserve Middletown’s 1-0 victory over North Haven in an American Legion South Regional state tournament elimination game.
“Oh geez, here it is, here’s another not win,” Mormile said he was thinking. “But everything was working — curve and fastball. I felt great coming in here.”
North Haven coach Tim Binkoski pretty much had no choice to send Garthwait.
“If we get a better read on the ball, he scores standing,” Binkoski said. “That ball had plenty of hang time. It was a matter of inches and from that read to getting thrown out by a foot at the plate is the difference in it being a 1-1 game. I could have held him, but I had 8 and 9 in the car coming up.”
With the victory, Middletown (18-13) will move on to the Pod H championship round at Oakville Wednesday. Middletown will need to beat Oakville twice to advance to the South Super Regional that begins Saturday. The first game is scheduled to begin at noon Wednesday with the “if necessary” game immediately afterwards. However, it is supposed to rain most of Wednesday, so the games could be pushed to Thursday.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” Middletown coach Jay Famiglietti said. “All the time I stress a couple things: throw strikes, make plays, swing the bat, score a couple runs and you’re going to win games.”
The seventh inning was the second straight frame that North Haven had a chance to tie things, In the bottom of the sixth, Post 76 had runners on the corners with one out, but Mormile got Dave Christoforo to hit into a controversial double play to end the inning. On the play, Christoforo and Middletown first baseman A.J. Kleczkowski collided at the bag, but the umpires ruled that Kleczkowski had touched the bag before coming off it in the collision.
Middletown scored the only run of the game in the top of the fourth. Cardi walked and Cole Niedmann singled him to second. Kleczkowski followed with a double down the right field line to plate Cardi.
“I thought I had to shut them down and keep doing what I was doing,” Mormile said.
Middletown tried a suicide squeeze to get a second run later in the inning, but Ryan Famiglietti missed the bunt and Niedmann was out by six feet at the plate.
North Haven, which ended its season with consecutive losses to Oakville and Middletown, finished 17-7.
“We just couldn’t get a run,” Binkoski said. “That’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
MIDDLETOWN 1, NORTH HAVEN 0
(at DeMayo Field)
MIDDLETOWN 000 100 0 – 1 5 0
NORTH HAVEN 000 000 0 – 0 5 0
Record: Middletown, 18-13. North Haven, 17-7. Batteries: M – Chris Mormile and Ryan Famiglietti. NH – Tom Myjak, Hunter Garthwait (6) and Dave Christoforo. 2B: M – A.J. Kleczkowski. NH – Andrew Laudano. RBI: M – Kleczkowski. Winning pitcher: Mormile. Losing pitcher: Myjak.