BERLIN>> Austin Toback thought the ball grazed his right elbow leading off the fourth, but he wasn’t granted first base.
He didn’t put up much of an argument and it’s a good thing he didn’t.
The East Lyme catcher turned on the next pitch from Kyle Naples and drove it over the right field fence at Sgt. Zipadelli Park in Berlin on Tuesday helping the Vikings to a 4-3 win over the No. 1 seed in the Class L state tournament and most recent No. 1 in the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register poll.
“It did hit me on the elbow, but I’m glad I didn’t go to first,” Toback said. “It was a belt high fastball and I just jumped on it. I got all of it and it went over the fence.”
The next batter, Dean Beebe was actually hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a RBI single by Logan Banker.
Berlin coach Leo Veleas pulled his starter with two out in the seventh after he walked pinch-hitter Sam Gonski.
“He was getting a little tired and his curve ball was rolling in there,” said Veleas, who inserted Dan Garofalo to face Toback. “Dan has been a real workhorse in that situation for us.”
Garofalo got two strikes on Toback before throwing a ball in the dirt that got away from Mitch Williams allowing Gonski to score the winning run from third.
“This is a big win for us,” East Lyme starting pitcher Jack Livingtson said. “But we’ve been here before. We beat No. 1 Plainfield earlier in the season, gave them their first loss. So we’ve been in these tight games all season, so it’s just another win for us.”
Berlin, one of the highest scoring teams in the state struggled early against Livingston, but would not go down easy.
“He threw pretty well,” Veleas said. “That’s probably the fastest kid we’ve seen this year.”
The junior right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced to start the game, striking out the final three. But he ran into trouble in the fourth.
He walked Daren Grabowski to lead off the inning. The Berlin centerfielder went station to station, eventually scoring on a Loagn Taricani single up the middle.
Livingston got out of the inning with two ground balls, stranding three.
“We had the bases loaded and nothing good happened there,” Veleas said.
Naples kept the Redcoats in the game, inducing two inning-ending double-play balls in the third and fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Dan McLeod and David Condon reached for the Redcoats and were both driven in when Greg Konowski lined a double to left center giving Berlin a 3-2 lead.
The Vikings small-balled their way to a tie game in the sixth, using a sacrifice bunt to get Toback to second, who then scored on Connor Elliot’s single.
“They got clutch hits and made the plays they had to make,” Veleas said.
In the top of the ninth, pinch-hitter Sam Gonski walked with two outs and went first to third on Toback’s single to center. He scored on a passed ball that bounced off the glove of Mitch Williams.
“Relaxed intensity,” Livingston said. “Our sticks are hot right now. If the pitching stays alive and the defense is solid, I think we can do it.”
No. 17 East Lyme will play No. 8 Cheney Tech on Friday in Manchester at a time to be determined.
East Lyme: 000 201 1 — 4 9 1
Berlin: 000 120 0 — 3 4 1
WP: Chris Leindecko; LP: Kyle Naples.
2B: EL-Spang; B-Konowski.
RBI: EL-Toback, Elliott, Banker; B-Konowski (2), Taricani.
Records: East Lyme 13-10; Berlin 20-2.