MIDDLETOWN >> It’s the moment every kid dreams of growing up. To get a chance to hit a game-winning home run to win the championship.
Wolcott junior Ray Bartoli lived out the dream on Friday under the lights at Palmer Field in the Class M state championship game when he hit a 2-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh to lift eighth-seeded Wolcott over 14th-seeded Northwestern 3-2 for the Eagles first ever state title.
“This is the first [walk-off home run] and the only time it matters,” Bartoli said. “I was just waiting for my pitch and he put it in my wheelhouse and I did some damage.”
Steve Urbanski, who hit a home run to lead off the fifth breaking a scoreless tie, led off the bottom of the seventh with a single up the middle. Then with one out Bartoli stepped to the plate facing Northwestern ace Vinny Tancreti and Wolcott coach Tary Scott had an inkling.
“Like I told someone,” Scott said. “If we get someone on, Ray’s going to knock one out.”
He hit the hanging curveball over the left field wall sending the entire Wolcott dugout streaming onto the field and the many hundreds of Eagles’ supporters into a frenzy.
“I instantly knew it was gone,” Urbanski said. “The crowd erupted and it was just unlike anything else. I almost blacked out it was so exciting.”
In a game of intricate details, it was two pitched that doomed Northwestern, coach James Davidson said: A fastball to Urbanski and the curveball to Bartoli.
“Two pitches in the whole game, really,” Davidson said. “The No. 1 guy (Urbanski) killed us, it was a low fastball that he hit for a home run.
“All year that curveball has been working for Vinny. And the kid was just on it. He drilled it. I thought it was going to be a triple and tie the game, but it just kept going and going.”
The historic swing became necessary in the top of the seventh when Wolcott starting pitcher Ike Negretti walked the lead-off batter Devin Warren.
Then with two outs senior catcher Bryce Ramsey lofted a fly ball into shallow right-centerfield that evaded all three players who attempted to catch it, bouncing off centerfielder Jacob Ramos’ glove. Warren scored from second to give Northwestern a 2-1 lead.
“Fought right back,” Davidson said. “Everybody did something. Great defense, I don’t think we made an error. Jayson, our sophomore, we hoped to get three innings out of him and we got almost to the sixth.”
But the Eagles stayed calm and knew they still had a chance to win — or at least tie.
“We we’re down,” Urbanski said. “Because we knew we had hope and we could do that. There wasn’t a single doubt in our team that we weren’t going to go out there and get that win.”
After Urbanski’s home run that plated the first run of the game in the fifth, Northwestern answered with what, at the time, looked like a costly error.
Joe Colombie reached on a throwing error by Matthew Warren at third base and his pinch runner scored on Lukas Gryniuk’s RBI single through the right side.
They then took the lead before the home run that Bartoli will remember for the rest of his life.
“It’s unreal,” Urbanski said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I’m just proud to do it with the kids I did it with tonight.
“I’ve played with them since I was a little kid and it means the world to me to get this done with them.”
Wolcott 3, Northwestern 2
Northwestern: 000 001 1 — 2 5 0
Wolcott: 000 0102 — 3 8 1
(at Palmer Field)
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) June 11, 2016
(W) — Isaiah Negretti-Flannery; (L) — Vinny Tancreti.
Batteries: N — Jayson Reola, Vinny Tancreti (6) and Bryce Ramsey; W — Isaiah Negretti-Flannery and Jeffrey Nicol.
2B: N — Bryce Ramsey; W — None.
HR: N — None; W — Steven Urbanski, Raymond Bartoli.
RBI: N — Lukas Gryniuk, Bryce Ramsey; W — Raymond Bartoli (2), Steven Urbanski.
SB: N — Connor LaBreck; W — None.
SAC: N — Connor LaBreck; W — None.
Team Records: Northwestern 17-8; Wolcott 20-7.