TORRINGTON >> Clinging to a two-run lead going to the bottom of the sixth inning, Holy Cross coach Mike Phelan called on senior Ben Brown to close out Seymour in the NVL championship game on Thursday.
Brown retired all six batters he faced, three on strikeouts, and did it all on just two days of rest to help the Crusaders to a 6-3 win at Fuessenich Park.
“I wanted to come in,” said Brown, who tossed a complete game shutout to beat St. Paul in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. “I was all behind Joe Peschel (the game’s starter), but I told coach I would be ready at any time.”
This is Phelan’s third NVL championship at Holy Cross, having also won in 2005 and 2010.
“I told them to respect the game, practice hard, play hard and if you do that, you will be champions,” he said.
The Crusaders either trailed or were tied with the Wildcats for the first five innings.
In the top of the sixth, after Peschel and Ethan Mester grounded out, leadoff hitter James Thorpe got things started.
“He’s great a perfect shortstop and leadoff man,” Phelan said.
After going down 1-2 in the count, Thorpe worked a walk on a 10-pitch at bat and stole second on the next pitch.
“I was thinking I had to keep fouling off and hoped to get on,” Thorpe said. “I was trying to give the guys behind me an opportunity to knock me in.”
Chris Anderson, who took the first pitch knowing Thorpe was stealing, readied himself to give the Crusaders their first lead.
“Just looking for a pitch to hit, I wasn’t going to chase anything,” he said.
Anderson took the next pitch he saw and hit it just hard enough to drop in over Seymour left fielder Bryan Rossetti’s head, scoring Thorpe and giving the Crusaders the lead for good.
“I found a good pitch to hit,” Anderson said.
Mike Chiovitti then knocked in Anderson, who dove head first to avoid the tag, giving the Crusaders a 5-3 lead.
Early on it looked like Seymour would run away with the game. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the first and second innings, but only managed to score two runs — one on a bases loaded walk and another on an RBI hit by Nick Kuzia.
“We got what we deserved. We should have won the game in the first two innings,” Seymour head coach Bob Kelo said. “We struck out looking twice in the first.”
The Crusaders pitched around Wildcats’ No. 3 hitter, Bryan Rossetti, walking him his first time up.
“My concern all year has been hitting and we didn’t do it today,” Kelo added.
The Crusaders began to break through in the third. Anderson and Mike Chiovitti led off with hits before Kelo pulled his starter Matt Cosciello in favor for Ryan Driscoll.
“I had no choice,” Kelo said. “I am not going to put kids out there that are set for the state tournament.”
Brown grounded out to score Anderson, and Kyle Skidmore knocked in Chiovitti to tie the game.
The Wildcats regained the lead in the fourth on an RBI double by Jaylen Kelley, but Holy Cross came back in next half inning to tie the game when Brendan Bessette knocked in Chiovitti on a sacrifice fly.
This championship was also special in another way for the Crusaders. Senior captain Dom Mascolo, who was the team’s cleanup hitter to start the season, broke his tibia and fibula against Ansonia in the sixth game of the season. Mascolo stayed with the team, and during the trophy presentation it was Mascolo, on crutches, who went out to represent the Crusaders.
“That was a big loss for us, he pumps us up,” Brown said. “He keeps us up, and he does a good job of it.”
“I told (Kyle) Skidmore to tell everyone to be in it every at bat,” Mascolo said.
The Crusaders enter the Class M tournament having won 10 of their last 11 games.
Holy Cross 6, Seymour 3
(at Fuessenich Park, Torrington)
Holy Cross 002 012 1 — 6 10 1
Seymour 110 100 0 — 3 3 0
Joe Peschel, Ben Brown (6) and Brendan Bessette; Matt Cosciello, Ryan Driscoll (3) Nick D’Agostino (6) and Jaylen Kelley.
WP: Joe Peschel (). LP: Nick DAgostino (). SV: Ben Brown (). 2B: (HC) Chris Anderson; (SE) Jaylen Kelley. RBI: Anderson, Chiovitti, Brown, Bessette, Skidmore (HC); Nick Kuzia, Jaylen Kelley (2) (SE);
Team records: Holy Cross 17-6; Seymour 18-5.
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