BRISTOL >> St. Paul senior Michael Dombrowski blasted a triple past the Portland left fielder in the bottom of the sixth in the Falcons Class S tournament quarterfinal game vs. Portland on Saturday.
It turned out to be the biggest hit of the game.
Not only did he drive in Chadd Richardson to reclaim the lead, but he later scored the eventual winning run as fourth-seeded St. Paul held off 12th-seeded Portland 6-5 to advance to its first state semifinal since 1999.
The Falcons will play 24th-seeded Old Lyme on Tuesday, June 7 in the Class S semifinals at New Britain’s Beehive Stadium.
After Portland scored twice in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 4, Richardson led off the bottom of the inning with a walk.
Dombrowski — who struck out looking in his first at-bat and reached on an error in the fourth — pulled the Roland Thivierge offering to left field and the ball got by the fielder which allowing him to race around to third.
Zachary Parent followed with a fly ball to centerfield and, although hesitant about it, Rinaldi sent Dombrowski home and he just beat Austin White’s throw.
“(That’s) the senior that he is,” St. Paul coach Victor Rinaldi said. “He’s been leading us all year, he’s a team captain, comes up and triples in the gap and drives in [Richardson] and then scores on a fly ball that I was questioning myself sending him. But I’m glad he went and scored that sixth run that proved to be the difference.”
That was the deciding run, because in the top of the seventh Thivierge led off with a solo home run out to left field to pull within one.
But Wesley Lahey was able to rebound and strike the final two Highlanders’ batters out to pick up the win.
“We hit the ball well today,” Portland coach Rick Borg said. “We had our chances to win the game, so we’re pleased with our effort, not the result.”
The Falcons took advantage of three Portland errors in the fourth to score three runs and take a 4-2 lead, but the Highlanders battled back for two in the sixth when St. Paul itself made three errors.
“We played great defense up until that point,” Rinaldi said. “We played a great game in the field — it was just a great way to answer back.”
St. Paul Catholic 6, Portland 5
Portland: 101 002 1 — 5 9 3
St. Paul: 100 302 x — 6 6 3
(at St. Paul Catholic)
P — Roland Thivierge (L); SPC — Wesley Lahey (W).