NORWICH >> Things could only get better for Montville.
The Indians’ best pitcher was knocked out of the game after just one inning of work, they booted two balls for errors and found themselves down by six runs in the sixth inning.
But that’s when things began to improve for Montville.
Isaiah Mack put the finishing touches on a six-run comeback with an RBI single in the ninth inning that scored Jeremy Sagun as the second-seeded Indians rallied to knock off 19th-seeded St. Joseph 7-6 at Dodd Stadium in the Class M state semifinals Wednesday.
Mack came up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and one out after St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves decided to intentionally walk both Terry Bowens and Buddy Dewaine with Sagun already on second base after a single earlier in the inning and two men out.
“I’m not going to get beat by Bowens, I’m not going to get beat by Dewaine,” Chaves said. “Those are All-State players, they’re going to go play Division I. If someone’s going to beat us, we’re going to get beat by somebody else.”
Unfortunately for St. Joe’s, the Indians’ “somebody else” was comfortable hitting at Dodd Stadium, something his coach reminded him of.
“I told him (Chaves) has no idea you’re batting about .800 (at Dodd),” Montville coach Phil Orbe said. “He’s a very underrated player for us. He doesn’t say much and he’s spoken very loudly the last five games.”
And the junior made his loudest statement in the ninth, with a line drive up the middle on the first pitch to end the game.
“This is like my park to hit,” Mack said. “When Coach called me over to hit, he was like, ‘You’ve been batting like .850 here. Just prove them wrong.’ ”
The Indians are headed to the Class M final at Palmer Field in Middletown Friday night. Montville advances to the final for the first time since winning it in 2011 over Seymour.
Meanwhile the path to Palmer ends here for the Cadets, who won the M title in 2013.
“They were one out away from playing in the state championship and they just saw it vanish right before their eyes,” Chaves said.
Early on, the Cadets had no reason to sulk, taking down Montville starter Buddy Dewaine in the second after notching three runs on him an chasing the University of Maine-bound pitcher in the second inning.
The Cadets made it 6-0 in the fifth after Matt McKernan hit an RBI double that scored Tully Horne and Steve Arnone came in to score on the throw.
“To be honest, I thought we were going to lose,” Mack said. “And not have practice tomorrow (Wednesday). Just take final (exams) and go home after school. And I didn’t want that.”
And neither did the rest of the Indians as they tacked on two runs in the sixth courtesy of a two-run double from Jordan Zeppieri that scored Quentin Duperry and Eric Ross.
The Indians continued the comeback in the seventh inning as Doug Delacruz hit and RBI single that scored Mack, who reached earlier on a single to make it 6-3 with no outs. Ross grounded out, and pushed Tom McDonald, who also singled earlier in the inning, to third. Duperry then laid down a bunt that scored McDonald from third to make it 6-4. Duperry reached first safely.
Sagun flied out to center for the seventh inning’s second out. Still, the Indians weren’t done. Zeppieri, who finished 3-for-4, drove in Ross with a base hit to left field to make it 6-5. Finally Bowens sent the game to extras with an RBI double that scored Duperry. Courtesy runner Alex Ganoe was thrown out trying to score from first.
“We had to make sure we had practice tomorrow,” Mack said.