Not much has changed from last season as, for the second straight year, Amity stares down Southington in the Class LL final. Pitching was the key in the Spartans’ 4-0 victory last season. That probably won’t change, either.
“We’re hoping our pitching continues the way it’s been going,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said.
The 17th-seeded Spartans battle UConn-bound Joey Rivera and the third-seeded Blue Knights Friday at 7 p.m. at Palmer Field.
[Update: Due to inclement weather the game has been postponed to Sunday, 12:30 p.m. at Palmer Field.]
Although Rivera has been one of the state’s best pitchers, Amity’s combination of starters Nick Fusco, Mike Appel, Ross Weiner and closer Sebastian DiMauro has formed one of the stingiest pitching staff’s in Class LL. Amity is coming off back-to-back shutouts and has only allowed three runs in four tournament games.
The Spartans got great pitching last season, led by New Haven Register All-Area MVP Mike Concato and Sam Nepiarsky, who is now at UConn.
Last year Amity only surrendered three runs heading into the final, too. Much like this season’s staff of slingers, last year’s Spartans also tossed two shutouts prior to the final. One of which was a no-hitter from Concato in a quarterfinal victory over Greenwich. The 2013 Spartans had one more shutout in them, blanking the Blue Knights in the title game.
“There’s a confidence with our guys as well that we can beat them,” Coppola said.
Weiner, Fusco and Appel didn’t see the mound much, as Nepiarsky and Concato dominated the state’s best hitters. Coppola said this staff had to grow up fast this season.
“They’re finally starting to come together,” he said.
Amity fought through an 0-3 start, giving up 18 runs in the early season slide. The Spartans got it back together and closed the season only surrendering 3.8 runs per game, half of the six per game it was giving up in the first three losses.
Still, Amity had some more maturing to do. After getting back to the Southern Connecticut Conference final, with a chance to repeat after winning it in 2012, the Spartans were blasted by Xavier 7-1. It was the first time Amity gave up more than five runs in a game since a 6-4 loss to those same Falcons on May 12.
“The guys have played in a lot of tough situations,” Coppola said.
And the toughest one awaits. However, if history is any indication of what may lie ahead, Amity could be in raising the championship plaque again.
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The Class LL baseball championship
No. 17 AMITY vs. No. 3 SOUTHINGTON
Friday, 7 p.m.Sunday, 12:30
- Where: Palmer Field, Middletown
- Records: Amity 18-9; Southington 20-3
- TV: CPTV Sports | Online: NFHS Network (subscription required)
- Players to watch: Amity — Nick Fusco, Sr. P, Sebastian DiMauro, Sr., OF/P, Anthony Capozziello, Sr., OF, Jake Russo, Sr., IF; Southington — Joey Rivera, Sr., P, Brett Shaw, Jr., Ryan DeAngelo, Jr.
- How Amity got here: The Spartans knocked off Danbury 6-1 in the first round, top-seeded Fairfield Prep 9-2 in the second round and blanked Glastonbury 7-0 in the quarters and Simsbury 3-0 in the semifinals.
- How Southington got here: Edged West Haven 6-4 in eight innings after a first round bye. In the quarterfinals, the Blue Knights took down Manchester 5-0 and topped FCIAC champion Fairfield Warde 6-5 in the semis.
- Why Amity will win: The Spartans don’t have Mike Concato or Sam Nepiarsky, but Fusco, Ross Weiner and Mike Appel have been more solid all season. DiMauro and Capozziello have been driving in runs and if the Spartans can get a lead, with their pitching, they probably won’t lose it.
- Why Southington will win: Rivera struggled with control in the semifinals, but that happening twice in a row is pretty unlikely. The Blue Knights have a chip on their shoulders after last season. Amity’s pitching has been strong, but its offense has been so-so, if Southington can scratch off three-to-four runs it could be enough.
- State title game appearances: Amity is 3-2 in its previous appearances, last winning last year. Southington is 3-6, last winning in 1999.
- Did you know?: This is the first time there has been a rematch of the finals in the largest school division. It’s never happened in Class LL, and when Class L was the largest division, it never happened there, either.
Editor’s note: The original post misidentified Sam Nepiarsky’s first name. This has been corrected.