WINSTED >> No. 15 seed Gilbert continued to be the latest hot team in a wild Berkshire League this season in a 5-3 win over No. 18 Housatonic Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the CIAC Class S State Baseball Tournament at Winsted’s Walker Field.
“We squared up on pitches and we played small-ball,” said Yellowjacket Coach Don Crossman.
Pitchers Ryan Sholtis (5.1 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 hit batter) for Gilbert and Scott Dignacco (5.2 innings, 3 earned runs, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk) for Housatonic kept it close most of the game, but big hits and costly Mountaineer errors put the outcome in Gilbert’s hands.
Yellowjacket Garrett Lombardo (2-for-4, 2 runs) led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple. Cam Goulet (2-for-3, run) lined a solid RBI single to bring him home.
Housy tied it on a pair of Gilbert errors in the top of the third along with a hit by Connor Toffey.
Then Gilbert cemented the win in the bottom of the inning.
Goulet led off with a single. Tim Smith reached on an error bringing Goulet to third, then scored on a botched fielder’s choice, leaving Smith on third and Chad Closson primed to steal second on the next pitch.
One out later, Sholtis nailed an RBI single to left.
After another out, Ryley Weiss dropped an RBI single into no-man’s land behind the Mountaineer shortstop.
At 4-1, with Sholtis on the mound, it was a long climb back for Housatonic.
An inning later, the climb got steeper when Lombardo reached on an error, then circled the bases on a steal, groundout and long sac fly by Smith.
“We have not made errors all season,” said Housatonic Coach Daryl Morhardt. “This infield is a little quicker than we’re used to, but it was mostly mental, with the pressure of a state tournament game.”
Meanwhile Sholtis, a junior who’s become one of the league’s best pitchers, steamed along with frustrations of his own.
“I had one pitch today (a pinpoint fastball),” he said. “I had two good curves all day.”
Sholtis got through it hitting the corners when he needed to. Otherwise, despite four mostly-harmless errors behind him, the Yellowjacket defense came through when it had to.
Sophomore Austin Smith dazzled on a sizzling grounder in the third inning, then again with a scoop on a low throw in the fourth.
“I was at third base last year. They wanted to try me at first this year,” he said.
Sholtis began the fifth inning yielding his fourth hit of the game in a close play at first on a Finn Bambery hit.
After a one-out walk by Zack Larson, Tim Smith took the mound.
“I like that kind of situation,” Smith said.
A ground-out moved the runners to second and third. Two wild pitches got them home.
From there, Smith was a rock, giving up just a hit and a walk for the rest of the game.
The win was the rubber match of a regular-season split between the two teams.
Houstonic finishes 10-11.
Gilbert, 12-9, plays at No. 2 Holy Cross (17-4) this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
No. 15 Gilbert 5, No. 18 Housatonic 3
At Walker Field, Winsted
Housatonic 001 002 0 – 3 5 3
Gilbert 103 100 X – 5 6 4
WP: Ryan Sholtis. LP: Scott Dignacco. 3B: G – Garrett Lombardo.
Records: Housatonic 10-11; Gilbert 12-9.