CROMWELL >> Different season, same result.
RCP won its fourth Zone 7 title in a row and seventh in the last 10 years by sweeping a doubleheader from second place West Hartford, 3-1 and 6-0, at Fran Monnes Field Sunday.
“I’m very excited; very excited for the guys,” RCP first-year coach T.J. Grande said. “We have a veteran team that knows how to win. My biggest concern coming into the season was managing our pitchers. I’m happy that no one was forced to pitch on short rest. I knew we had a great team.”
Everything starts with pitching for RCP and on this day, that was Tucker Lord and Tommy Seaver. Lord fired a four-hitter, striking out nine in the opener. Seaver threw the second game shutout — another four-hitter — and fanned eight in a dominating performance.
“Lord and Seaver were successful today because we had other guys step up earlier in the week so we could use them against West Hartford,” Grande said. “They are veterans; they were ready to go.”
West Hartford came in with its top pitchers also ready, but it was no match for RCP.
“They threw their two best pitchers and we threw our two best,” West Hartford coach Elliot Lane said. “We didn’t hit theirs, but they hit ours. I thought we had some opportunities in the first game, but we didn’t execute. Their defense played very well and the [Cory] Baldwin boy made some great plays at shortstop.
“Then in the second game, Seaver threw fastball after fastball at 85-plus and we couldn’t catch up. Thing is, we don’t see enough good pitching in Zone 7. The other teams don’t have the kind of pitching RCP has. But we’re in second, we’ll be in the playoffs.”
RCP fell behind 1-0 in the fourth inning of the opener, but bounced right back to score three in its half of the inning.
Nick Quieroz tied the game with an RBI double, Kevin Radziewicz singled home a run and Baldwin capped the rally with another RBI single.
Max Vogel-Freeman took the loss.
RCP (19-3) took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning of the second game as West Hartford made two errors. The first run was driven in when Austin White hit a bouncing single through the shortstop hole. The second run came when White stole third and scored when the throw was wild.
The champs put the game away with four in the fifth. Baldwin smacked a two-run single for a run and Chris Bouchard did the same. Pat McHale started and lost for West Hartford.
“Today we got big hits,” said Grande, whose team has survived on pitching and defense most of the season.
“To come back and score three after they took a lead in the first inning was huge, and then to break up the second game with a big inning was also great for us.”
RCP will play Tri-County and Newington (twice) this week in what are now meaningless games. RCP’s next meaningful game comes a week from Wednesday when it hosts one of the survivors of next weekend’s playoff games in a best of three series.
The game is slated for 3:30 p.m. on July 22. The two teams will play a doubleheader — if necessary — the following day in Cromwell.
“I said at the start of the season that last year [when RCP went to the World Series] is over and this is a new start,” Grande added. “Our objective was first to win the zone, then go deep in the state tournament. With guys like Radziewicz, Bouchard and Seaver who lead by example, we stayed focused all year.”