WOODBURY — Nonnewaug sophomore Dylan Chung broke open a tense pitchers’ duel with a towering triple to right center field in the bottom of the sixth inning, igniting a four-run Chiefs scoring flurry in a 5-1 win over Thomaston Saturday afternoon at Nonnewaug high School.
“When we start hitting, we keep hitting,” beamed Nonnewaug coach Frank Melillo, whose perfectly-timed hitters knocked Thomaston (8-3; 8-2 Berkshire League) out of a three-way tie with Northwestern for at the top of the league.
“My coach told me to shorten up my swing,” Chung said after Thomaston ace Keegan Daigle (6 innings, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts, 4 walks) got him on strikes in his first two at-bats.
Two more Nonnewaug hitters followed the formula in the sixth, with just two Chief hits against Daigle before that.
With Chung on third, one out in the 1-1 tie game deadlocked from the first inning, Ryan Tomkalski drew a walk, Travis Bambino broke the tie with a fielder’s choice held by an infielder for no out.
The game was still within the Golden Bears’ reach, but the Chiefs kept hitting.
Ryan Ponte jumped on a first pitch for an RBI ground rule double for a 3-1 Nonnewaug lead.
Daigle fielded a comebacker to the mound for the second out.
Then Braeden Purser pounded the back-breaker up the middle for a two-run single and the final score.
Thomaston had one more chance at bat, but Nonnewaug pitcher Ben Conti (7 innings, 7 hits, 3 striekouts, 2 walks) kept doing what he did all game.
“I rely on a defense behind me that I can trust,” he said.
In the top of the seventh, Conti gave up a hit and a walk, but two sure-handed catches in the outfield and Conti’s third strikeout packed away the win.
Long before that, Thomaston leadoff hitter Ryan Bethin started the game with a triple and the game’s first score on a ground-out for the Bears.
But Conti and his defense foiled Thomaston hitters at every turn from then on — most spectacularly with double plays in the second and sixth innings and a diving catch by centerfielder Brendan Burke to end the Thomaston fifth.
Nonnewaug’s Tomkaski scratched out the Chiefs’ first-inning run on a walk stolen base and RBI single by Travis Bambino.
After that, they waited for somebody — in this case Chung — to start the hitting.
“We invested a lot of emotion in this game,” said Golden Bear coach Craig Prasauckas. “They got a couple of bigger hits than we did.”