MIDDLETOWN>> Northwest Catholic coach Cory Carlson could not have drawn it up any better.
Freshman starting pitcher Luke Fox pitched five and two-thirds innings and allowed one run on four hits before giving way to ace Justin Gallichio who closed out the Indians second Class S championship in school history.
Northwest Catholic scored all five runs in the third inning to beat Morgan, 5-1 at Palmer Field on Saturday afternoon.
This is NWC’s first title since 2010 and, as the 27th seed, is the lowest to win a CIAC baseball title.
Morgan was playing in just it’s second state final, first since 1968.
Northwest Catholic didn’t qualify for the state tournament until May 20, the third to last game of the regular season, but won nine-of-its-last 10 to claim the title. Morgan, meanwhile, saw its eight game win streak come to an end on Saturday.
“It was the perfect scenario for us,” Carlson said. “If I wanted to write the way I would have wanted to do it, this was pretty much it.”
Gallichio threw all seven innings of the Indians semifinal win vs. Career. Since he had just nine outs to work with in the final, Fox got the opportunity.
And he delivered.
After shutting out Old Lyme in the second round, Fox retired the first seven batters of the title game and only allowed one base-runner to third base in the first five innings.
“He looked like a 17, 18-year-old kid instead of a kid pitching in the Babe Ruth league last year,” Carlson said.
But behind a good pitching performance is always some defensive gems and Northwest Catholic definitely flashed some leather.
With runners on first and third with two out in the third, Gary Forbes hit a hard ground ball down the third base line, but Aaron Renker down to his right, made the catch and threw Forbes out at third to end the inning.
“He looked like freakin’ Ken Caminiti over there,” Carlson said. “Old-school Ken Caminiti.”
Then, in a nearly identical play with a runner on second in the sixth, Liam Neri was thrown out by Renker.
Leon Babcock also made a sliding catch in right field to rob Maddon Ward of a base hit in the fifth.
“Any hard ball we were hitting was getting caught or hit right at people,” Morgan coach John Litevich said.
The Northwest Catholic offense gave Fox some breathing room in the top of the third when it sent nine batters to the plate starting with a leadoff walk to Jack Manzi.
After a strikeout, the next five Indians reached base. Evan Michalek singled, Hunter Tralli hit an RBI double and Babcock followed with a single before Tom Meucci walked.
Gallichio drove in two with a double down the left-field line.
“Hunter Tralli started off with that double and that got the momentum going,” Gallichio said. “Then I was able to get the two RBIs and after that we gave Luke some breathing room.”
Tyler Rice drove in the fifth Northwest Catholic run with a sacrifice fly to right.
Morgan’s lone run came in the bottom of the sixth aided by a leadoff walk to Jake Ward. He advanced to second on Will Fritz’s ground out to second and came in on a Jared Spanier single.
Gallichio came on and got the final four outs of the game, including taking the come-backer over to first himself for the final out of the season.
“They were fantastic,” Litevich said of the Indians pitching. “The freshman [Fox], he’s going to be really good. He threw strikes, kept us off balance for a little while. We started to get to them and then they brought in their ace. They both pitched fantastically.”
Northwest Catholic: 005 000 0 — 5 8 1
Morgan: 000 001 0 — 1 4 0
(at Palmer Field)
WP: Luke Fox LP: Connor McGill SV: Justin Gallichio
Batteries: (NWC) — Luke Fox, Justin Gallichio (6) and Tyler Rice; (M) — Connor McGill, Chad Neri (3) and Dylan Ketch
2B: (NWC) — Hunter Tralli
RBI: (NWC) — Justin Gallichio (2), Hunter Tralli, Leon Babcock, Tyler Rice; (M) — Jared Spanier
SB: (NWC) — Jack Manzi
Records: Northwest Catholic 14-11; Morgan 20-5