MIDDLETOWN >> One loud crack of the bat from Mack Taylor gave Law a first-inning lead in the Class L state semifinals against Masuk.
However, that solo home run was as loud as a Law bat would get.
Masuk starter Cam Kovachik settled down after the Taylor homer and three errors doomed second-seeded Law as it fell to No. 14 Masuk 7-2 at Palmer Field Tuesday.
The Panthers will play No. 4 Notre Dame-West Haven in the final at Palmer at a time and date to be announced. Law (21-5) had a chance to win its first state crown since 2008, but instead Masuk will get the chance to win its first in school history.
Panthers coach Ralph Franco was not coaching because of a family emergency. As the Masuk players gathered after their victory, all the Panthers could talk about was their coach.
“It’s a really good feeling to do this for him and for us,” Kovachik said. “Bringing a state title to Masuk.”
Law had the upper hand early due to Taylor’s blast that fired up the Milford contingent of the crowd. The first baseman followed that up in the top of the second with a nice catch up against the netting in foul territory, again bringing the crowd to its feet.
“We never felt like (Law) had the momentum,” said Masuk assistant coach Dennis Accomando, who coached in place of Franco. “Just because they had more fans than us didn’t mean they had momentum.”
Just to be on the safe side, Masuk snuffed out any hopes of a Law victory as Matt Romaniello, Paul Marchese and John Orzechowski nickeled-and-dimed Law starter Kevin Johnson with choppers and bloop singles to load the bases.
Law catcher Dillon Rocha’s errant throw to first on a weak ground ball allowed Kyle Horton to reach first and Romaniello to score. Then Johnson walked Anthony Amoroso to force in Marchese and give Masuk a 2-1 lead. Law never led again.
“The ball was hit out of the infield once against us,” said Law coach Greg Simler about the second inning. “Things happen, it’s baseball. It’s what makes this the greatest game and the toughest game at the same time.”
Masuk would tack on two more in the third, and score one apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh. Meanwhile, Kovachik kept the Lawmen in check, holding them to just four hits and striking out seven on 103 pitches in the complete-game victory.
Law suffered its second tough postseason setback after falling to Amity in the SCC tournament. Simler said this season did not end in a championship, but it was still a great year.
“When I sit back and think about the season, I probably won’t be thinking too much about this game,” Simler said. “I’ll be thinking about all the good stuff that happened this season.”