NEW BRITAIN>> Haddam-Killingworth coach Mark Brookes has never taken a drink of water during a game.
“I had to in this one,” Brookes said. “It just went too long.”
Thirteen innings long.
But Brian Moskey has been huge for the Cougars all tournament long. And there was no single moment bigger than when he stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the 13th with the game tied at 5.
Moskey turned a fastball from Kyle Boarman around and drove it to the left center gap, breaking an 0-for-7 afternoon at the plate and giving H-K a 7-5 win over No. 2 Plainfield at Beehive Stadium in the Class M semifinals.
“I was surprised they were pitching to him,” Brookes said. “But that’s a decision that’s made.”
No. 11 H-K advances to its fifth state final and second in three years. They’ll face Rocky Hill, which similarly needed 12 innings to defeat St. Joseph, 1-0, in the other semifinal.
The Cougars have never won a state title. They lost to Plainville, 3-1 in 2012.
“It comes down to looking at both teams and everybody’s just exhausted,” Plainfield coach Jason Chaviaras said. “But whoever got the big hit in the right situation was going to win that game.”
This win marks number 607 for Brookes in his storied career. But the one accomplishment that eludes him is a state championship.
“Obviously we want to do everything for Brookes,” Moskey said. “He’s worked hard for almost 40 years now.”
Moskey and Tuesday’s starter Griffin Bremer are the lone hold-overs from that team two years ago and now have another shot.
“We took that loss very hard, to the heart two years ago,” Moskey said. “Griffin and I always dreamed of getting one more shot at this opportunity here, to win the first one in school history.”
“We’ve been talking all year how we want a chance to play in this game, and we’re going to do everything we can to lock up the state title.”
Pitching has gotten the Cougars this far and Bremer was no different.
The senior southpaw didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but he had walked five.
“I definitely think the walks hurt us,” Brookes said.
Plainfield only collected three hits and they all came in the fifth when the Panthers took the lead.
Plainfield starting pitcher Jordan Federer broke up the no-hit bid with a single to center. Ryan Pambuku loaded the bases with a single as well and then with one out, the big hit came.
Michael Esposito crushed a bases-clearing triple to right center to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
“We’re putting runners on and they’re getting hits in big spots,” Brookes said. “That’s the way they’ve won in the past and that’s the way they tie it today and went ahead today.”
Jason Biesiadecki gave Plainfield a 4-2 lead with a sacrifice fly to center.
H-K tied the game in the seventh.
Bremer, who was on the hook for the loss, connected for a 2-run double to tie the game at 4.
Moskey, already with two wins in the state tournament came on in relief to start the eighth.
“You don’t go anywhere without pitching,” Brookes said. “With [Moskey] and Bremer, we’ve been very very good. [Moskey’s] been tremendous in the tournament.”
The Cougars reclaimed the lead in the tenth with two out. Ty Schuler singled in Joe Aitken after Bremer was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Plainfield, again, tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
Stephen Jankowski lifted a fly ball to center allowing Griffin to score easily from third.
Moskey didn’t allow a hit in six relief innings and collected his third win in three Class M tournament games.
“We had chances,” Chaviaras said. “Just late in the game we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Haddam-Killingworth will play in the Class M championship game either Friday or Saturday at Palmer Field in Middletown.
Haddam-Killingworth: 000 200 2 00 1 002 — 7 12 0
Plainfield: 000 004 000 100 0 — 5 3 5
Batteries: HK-Bremer, Moskey (8) and Popp; P-Federer, Esposito (7), Boarman (8) and Biesiadecki.
WP: Moskey; LP: Boarman.
2B: HK-Bremer, Moskey.
RBI: HK-Bremer (2), Marino (2), Moskey (2), Schuler; P-Esposito (3), Biesiadecki, Jankowski.
Records: Haddam-Killingworth 18-7; Plainfield 23-4.