WASHINGTON DEPOT — Hamden Post 88 turned Washington’s Saturday American Legion baseball state tournament first-round win on its head in a 6-2 Washington nightmare in a second-round game at Ted Alex Field Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday, Washington put Ridgefield away in a first inning followed by great pitching and defense.
Sunday, Hamden — first-round Saturday winner over Greenwich — took control in the second inning in what Washington coach Mike Kersten called “our worst inning all season.”
The game began as a classic battle between strong lefty starters — Hamden’s Ryan Doherty and Washington’s Dom Perachi.
Perachi, who threw a one-hitter in Washington’s Shepaug Valley CIAC Class S final, mowed down Hamden’s first three batters on a called third strike, a groundout and a fly to center field.
Doherty, a Hamden Hall graduate headed to Division I Manhattan College, threw a popup, strikeout and hit by Joe Brunelli, gunned down trying to steal second in the bottom of the inning.
Then the second inning tumbled in on Perachi with an opening double by Tyler Osborne, single by Henry Bielen (2-for-2, RBI, run scored) and walk to Doherty.
Bases loaded, no outs.
Saturday, Washington pitcher Tim Cianciolo came away from the same dilemma unscathed in the first inning.
Sunday, Perachi was buried by a couple of pitches that got away for runs, two errors and a single by Mike Aceto (2-for-4, 2 RBI) for four runs.
Saturday, Coach Kersten praised Washington’s season-long defensive prowess and pitching.
Sunday, “Our defense let (Perachi) down,” Kersten said. “It just snowballed.”
Washington closed to 4-2 in the second and third innings on a pair of Hamden errors after the first of two Cianciolo doubles and a throwing error in the second inning and a walk and a three-base throwing error for Owen Hibbard in the third.
Doherty and Hamden got over the misfires. Washington and Perachi never really did.
Bielen and Doherty were back with a leadoff walk and a hit in the third inning. Hamden tacked on another run in the fourth on a two-out hit by Jake Pisano (2-for-4, run), another Washington error and an RBI single by Bielen, then put it away for good in the seventh on a double by Ethan Shepard (2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs), a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout by Aceto.
“This is (Doherty’s) first year with us,” said Hamden coach Ray Guarino. “It was a pleasant surprise — and even more pleasant when we discovered he could hit.”
But despite Washington’s misery (19-7), it was a tough day for Hamden (22-6) as well.
“It was a battle,” said Doherty. “They hit my fastball well.”
“He used all his (Legion-limit) 105 pitches and they forced him into a lot of full counts,” said Guarino.
Still, the edge so far for Hamden might just come from the coach himself.
“I was diagnosed with multiple myelitis and the team’s been great fighting it with me,” Guarino said. “The doctors caught it early, but the chemo’s been rough.”
Call that perspective for another steaming-hot day in Washington Depot.
Washington hosts Greenwich Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. for a knockout game in the double-elimination tournament. The winner plays at Hamden High School Wednesday for the chance to move on to the tournament’s final phase at Ceppa Field in Meriden beginning Saturday.