EAST HAMPTON — Forget the final score for a moment. Haddam-Killingworth defeated East Hampton 18-3 in a Shoreline Conference interdivision game for its eighth straight win to start the season.
H-K looked nothing like an unbeaten team Monday — at the plate, in the field and with its body language —and coach Mark Brookes said as much. East Hampton held a 3-1 lead after five innings and it seemed almost enough the way right-hander Jared Reed had the Cougars waving at pitches. The combination of the junior’s fastball and slider produced nine strikeouts and four hits.
But Reed couldn’t last forever in this one, and as good teams do, H-K seized on the moment when he left the game and the Cougars exploded at the plate.
In the decisive sixth inning, H-K’s Ross Meglin led off with a walk and Jon Civiello doubled on Reed’s 103rd pitch to knock him off the mound. Mike O’Toole lined a single to center to tie the score, and the Cougars ended up batting around to the tune of 11 runs. They batted around again in the seventh for six more.
Still, Brookes wasn’t pleased to see a listless team the majority of the game, especially with defending Shoreline champion Cromwell (8-1) visiting the Cougars on Tuesday.
“You have to start with the fact that we came out flat and didn’t play like we wanted to win,” Brookes said. “We did not field well or hustle, things you should do well when you’re 8-0.”
Freshman right-hander Alec Erskine got the victory for H-K in long relief. He held East Hampton hitless in three innings and struck out seven.
The loss went to reliever Aaron Riley, who pitched East Hampton (2-6) to a 4-1 victory over Hale-Ray just last Saturday. The Bellringers were undone, in part, by a defense that committed three errors and had trouble measuring up an H-K offense that dropped hits into the outfield and powered balls over heads or into the gaps.
Having a lead after five innings against the caliber of a team like H-K did not brighten Tom Seidl’s mood. He has coached the Bellringers into the state tournament his first three seasons on the job but realizes a fourth straight appearance is unlikely.
“Not at all. Just the way we played … we fell apart and no one picked each other up,” he said. “That’s the disappointing part. It felt like we gave up (when the outcome was decided) and that’s the thing that tears me apart.”
East Hampton took the first lead of the game in the fourth with an assist from H-K’s troubles on defense. A harmless pop foul outside third base that could’ve ended the inning was dropped. From there, a walk to Jimmy Sullivan set up Reed, who doubled home the two runs.
“If Reed finished the game on the mound, we could be losers at 3-1,” Brookes said. “We came in 7-0 and thought all we had to do was show up and they would lay down. If we do this again, then we won’t have learned from this.”
Civiello led H-K’s attack with four hits, four runs scored and two RBIs. Meglin reached base four times and scored three runs, and Jackson Parmentier doubled twice among his three hits and scored twice.
“This game is a reminder that we have to come in ready to play. It was like we were unprepared to hit,” Civiello said. “We have to start out better and not think we can just roll over a team. We have to play our best every time out.”
East Hampton finished with five hits. Josh Wagner had one of them, scored a run and stole two bases.