MILFORD – With five games remaining in this last week of the regular season, Milford Post 196 knows if its wins out, the chances of qualifying for the state tournament are heavily in Milford’s favor. Post 196 took the first step Tuesday evening.
Behind the pitching of Evan Carolla and the hitting of Justin Lanese and Rob Griswold, Milford topped East Haven Post 89 12-2 in a game stopped after five innings due to the mercy rule at Foran High.
With the victory, Milford improved to 11-12 and into a tie with East Haven for sixth place in the zone. Both teams are chasing New Haven and are each one game back for the fifth and final spot.
“We are still in the hunt,” Milford coach Cliff Bugyi said. “We want to make the playoffs. We lost a lot of games this year by one or two runs. This is a pretty solid zone. It is very competitive.”
Carolla went the full five innings on the hill, allowing just one earned run on three hits, while striking out four and walking one.
Lanese and Griswold each had three hits and two runs batted in apiece, with each also hitting a double. Griswold scored three times, including the final run of the contest on an error by Post 89 in the fifth inning.
“We started out 4-0,” Bugyi said. “We have struggled as we did not have the pitching. But, we are still in a position where we can get there.”
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Post 89 struggled to solve Carolla in its final four at bats. With Carolla settling in on the mound, the Post 196 offense followed suit.
After leaving a pair of runners on in the first inning, Milford had the same situation with two outs in the second, but did not squander its second chance.
Post 196 sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, knocking around six hits, including five with two outs. Milford scored six times after two were out in the inning off East Haven starter Dan Petr.
“They are a good hitting team,” East Haven coach John Longley said after his team fell to 12-13. “They hit line drives. We did not make a couple of plays and they took advantage. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team.”
After Nick Tuozzola singled and Colin Firmender walked to open the inning, Petr used a pair of strikeouts to record the next two outs. By the time he recorded the third, Milford held a 6-2 lead.
Max Gorlick singled to center to score Tuozzola, and Lanese followed with a line double to right, scoring Firmender and Gorlick for a 3-2 lead.
Griswold kept the line moving with a single to right to score Lanese, and with runners on the corners after Brian Wydra walked, Mack Taylor singled to left to score Griswold. Tuozzola picked up his second hit of the inning, scoring Wydra for a 6-2 advantage.
“We hit the ball well,” Bugyi said. “We played well.”
Post 89 failed to score in the third and Milford tacked three more runs on the board with two outs in the bottom of the inning to take a 9-2 lead.
Bryan Firmender opened with a single and after Petr again struck out the next two batters, Lanese singled to score Bryan Firmender. An error allowed Lanese to move to second where he scored on Griswold’s double to left. When Griswold scored on another East Haven error, Post 196 had a commanding seven-run lead.
“I am disappointed in the way we lost,” Longley said. “I wish we would have given a better effort. The good thing is we have two more games with them. We need to find a way to win the next two games.”
East Haven got on the board first in the game, taking advantage of two Milford errors to score twice in the first inning.
After two were out, Al Maio reached on an error and scored on Tyler Leone’s double to the gap in left center. Dom Delbasso then reached on Milford’s second error of the inning to score Leone for a 2-0 lead.