NORWICH >> On this night, it was the other righthander who was the best pitcher in the state.
Cromwell senior Jake Regula knew he had to pitch one of the best games of his career if the Panthers were going to dethrone East Hampton and star hurler Marvin Gorgas in Saturday night’s Shoreline Conference championship game.
Regula allowed just three hits while striking out nine as Cromwell captured their second SLC baseball title in three years with a 2-1 victory over the top-seeded Bellringers in front of huge crowd at Dodd Stadium.
“I’m just so proud of (Jake),” said Cromwell coach Lew Pappariella. “He did today what he’s done all year. He’s been a leader for us. He told me after last season that he wanted to be one of the best righthanded pitchers in the state and you know what, he beat a pretty good righty today.”
Gorgas (9-1), who beat Cromwell a year ago in the SLC finals, allowed six hits and struck out 11. The hard-throwing righthander and future major league draft pick has been virtually unhittable this year.
But Cromwell struck for two runs in the top of the second on Regula’s infield hit and a pair of RBI triples by Cory Baldwin and Sean Melaven.
“They came out swinging the bats right away and put us on our heels a little bit,” said East Hampton coach Scott Wosleger. “The two triples were kind of stunning. They were on the fastball early and you’ve got to give them credit because no one has been on the fastball.”
Regula seemed bolstered by the 2-0 lead and set the Bellringers down in order in the second, third and fourth innings.
“I just had to spot really well and get my curveball over for strikes,” said Regula, who is headed to Wheaton. “My defense played great behind me and we hit the ball.”
But with one out in the fifth Steve Peltier singled to center and Matt Sevigny drew a walk. Regula notched a strikeout for the second out but Gorgas singled to left to make it 2-1.
Regula then balked the runners into scoring position before firing a big inning-ending strikeout.
No. 2 Cromwell (20-3) had a great chance to extend their lead by loading the bases with one out in the sixth. But Gorgas got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
Regula got two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh before walking Matt Sevigny. But Regula ended it in dramatic fashion with his ninth strikeout.
“I was a little nervous in that last inning but other than that I felt confident that we were going to win,” said Regula. “It feels great.”
Mike McNally had two hits and two stolen bases, while Regula had two hits.
Gorgas had two hits for the Bellringers, whose bid for their third SLC title in four years fell short.
East Hampton (20-3) and Cromwell are the top two seeds in the upcoming CIAC Class S state tournament.
“It seems like we’re always playing a great team, and that’s what East Hampton is,” said Pappareilla. “They’re a real tough team to beat and that’s why the guys are so happy and excited right now because they know what a great feat they pulled off by being able to take them down.”
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