MIDDLETOWN >> RCP’s American Legion team built up a six run lead, then held on to win the opening game of the best-of-three state championship series, 6-5, at Palmer Field Friday evening.
The game ended when Cole Orgozalek, RCPs third pitcher of the night, picked pinch-runner Eddie Meizels off first base. Meizels represented the tying run.
“I told the my team that it’s all about surviving, about winning and moving on,” said RCP coach T.J. Grande. “Tonight, we survived.”
Until the eighth inning, this looked like an easy win for the Zone 7 champions. RCP took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Kevin Radziewicz (3-for- 5), then scored three times in the fourth to build a 4-0 lead. Dave Sevigny had an RBI double and Leo Thomas (2-for-3) had a two-run single in the rally.
RCP (29-3) scored two more runs in the eighth when Kevin Larkin (2-for-5) tripled and scored on a wild pitch and Thomas doubled home a run. At 6-0, RCP looked to be home free.
Tom Seaver went the first seven innings for RCP and scattered just five hits while striking out three and walked three. But after 122 pitches, Grande opted for Danny Ambler, who immediately gage up three consecutive hits to start the inning.
Kevin Stone (2-for-5 and who was the losing pitcher), knocked in a run with a base hit and Anthony Frangiose (2-for-5) drove home another. After Ogorzalek booted a double play ball at third, Grande brought in Ogorzalek in place of Ambler.
Ogorzalek gave up two hits which produced another run before he got a strikeout and a ground ball with the bases loaded to end the inning with a 6-3 lead.
In the ninth Stamford (29-5) came right back at Ogorzalek.
Randy Polonia (2-for-4) opened the inning with a base hit. After Stone flied to right, Frangiose tripled up the left-center field alley for a run. After Chris Ruiz struck out, Pete Horn (2-for-5) singled home Frangiose to cut the lead to one.
Stamford coach Kevin Murray sent in Meizels to run for Horn, but Ogorzalek picked him off before throwing a pitch to end the game
“The kids battled,” said Grande. “We certainly showed we can play with Stamford. We got four runs off Stone, who is a Division I pitcher [and two off reliever Shawn Urbano], but we’ve done that before. In the end, Ogorzalek was our best option in that spot.
“It was Cole’s error, something he never does, that hurt Ambler. The big out was the ground ball that ended the eighth with Polonia on deck. That was the ballgame right there.”
The two teams play Game 2 Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Palmer Field. If Stamford wins, a third and deciding game will be played immediately after Game 2.
The winner of the series plays Colchester, Vt., at 4:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Northeast Regional Aug. 5 at Muzzy Field in Bristol.
Video via Sportzedge.com