MERIDEN—They say good things come to those who wait and the Southington Senior American Legion baseball team had been waiting since 1993 for a state championship.
Saturday, in a game which began four hours late because of rain and went to extra innings, Southington rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth, beating Ellington 7-6 and winning the state championship series 2-0.
Trailing by one run with two outs and two on in the bottom of the eighth, Andrew Owsianko sent a flyball to deep to leftfield which dropped in when the Ellington leftfielder slipped, allowing two runs to score and sending off a celebration 25 years in the making.
“Off the bat, I thought it was out but I didn’t get enough. I just wanted to get on base with a line drive or something and get it to the next guy. I happened to hit it deep enough to get both runs in,” Owsianko said. “We always play together as a team. We got the pitching and we got the hitting. Today we didn’t get our best pitching of the tournament but our hitters came through and that’s what we needed.”
For Southington, it was the culmination of a crazy summer that saw it shipped out of the Northern Region and into Zone 3 with powerhouse Cheshire, then thrown into arguably the toughest pod in the regionals, later beating Cheshire twice in the Super Regionals to advance to the finals.
So, down a run in extra innings was nothing for the team that had already been through so much.
“A lot of times you want to see your team come back at some point in the year so it’s not easy and you can call on something. We had so many moments we were down to our last out and we never lost faith,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said. “To do it for the town is special. Southington is a huge baseball town and it means the world to win this.”
Prior to Owsianko hit, Josh Panarella singled with one out and after Ellington got the second out, Brayden Cooney drew a walk, setting the stage for the walk-off theatrics.
In the top of the eighth, Ellington took a one-run lead on a bases loaded walk to Chase Kidd.
Southington scored first on a solo home run by Jeremy Mercier and scored again in the second on a RBI-double by Dan Topper.
That held until the top of the fourth when Ellington took the lead with a four-run outburst.
Dakota Aldrich drove in three with a bases-loaded double and Ellington added another on a single to right by Kevin Smith.
Southington came right back with two in the bottom of the fifth with one run coming in on a wild pitch and another on a sacrifice fly by Owsianko.
Ellington would answer in the top of the sixth with Ryan Decker driving in Logan Terry with a single to center.
Southington would tie it back up with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when a throwing error by the third baseman allowed Topper to race home, tying the game at 5-5 which is where it stayed until the eighth.
Ellington coach Heath Kidd said he his team had a lot to be proud of.
“These guys have been resilient all season and nothing changed today,” Kidd said. “Our guy out in left field, this is not on him, he’s a great outfielder. Guys were resilient, battled to the end but it didn’t go our way. Southington is a classy team over there and it was an honor competing against them.”
SOUTHINGTON 7, ELLINGTON 6
ELLINGTON 000 041 01—6 12 1
SOUTHINGTON 110 021 02—7 8 1
Batteries: E—Kevin Smith, Mike Dubeil (6), Brady Coleman (L, 7) and Aaron Young; S—Ryan Henderson, Justin Verilli (W, 7) and Josh Panarella