CROMWELL >> After allowing just two hits over eight innings and leaving with a 3-1 lead, RCP lefthander Logan Lessard sat on a bucket and watched Windsor Locks load the bases with two outs in the ninth against reliever Cole Ogorzalek.
Yup, this was nail-biting time for most teams. But as RCP has proven time and again this summer, they’re not like most teams. It’s a confident group whose players have performed in big championship spots.
“I knew we had it,” said Lessard. “I had confidence in (Cole).”
Ogorzalek ended the game with a dramatic strikeout as RCP advanced to the American Legion Super Regionals with a 3-1 victory Thursday afternoon at Monnes Field.
RCP (20-5), one of eight teams left in the tourney, will play at Muzzy Field in Bristol on Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum going right now,” said Lessard, who struck out six and walked two. “We’ve just got to take it into Muzzy Field and just keep everything going.”
Windsor Locks (19-12) needed to defeat RCP twice on Thursday to keep its season alive and ace righthander Robbie Hitt gave them a chance. Hitt allowed only four hits and struck out 11 while dueling Lessard.
But Lessard picked three baserunners off first base, catcher Kevin Radziewicz picked a runner off second with a terrific throw, and centerfielder Tom Seaver made a great running catch with a runner on to end the eighth inning as Post 36 couldn’t get its offense untracked.
“The scouting report on RCP was four really good pitchers and they threw four kids in the last two games and every one was very good,” said Windsor Locks coach Rusty Mattesen. “We can’t rely on one hit to do it. We have to play hard all game and we just didn’t have enough to offset their pitching.”
It looked like Lessard and Hitt were going to exchange goose-eggs all afternoon. But in the bottom of the fourth RCP’s Aex Ramirez drilled a long double to the gap in right center, sending Cory Baldwin, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, to third. Josh Zawisa then bounced a two-run single past a drawn-in infield and into left field to give RCP a 2-0 lead.
Windsor Locks answered with a run in the fifth. Jake Chmelowski laced a one-out double and moved to third on an infield out. Matt Clark then hit a chopper behind the mound that Baldwin raced in and scooped up. But Baldwin’s off-balance throw got away from Zawisa at first and Chmelowski scored.
Windsor Locks gave the run back in the fifth when Kevin Radziewicz scored on a wild pitch and RCP had a 3-1 advantage.
“That was big,” said RCP coach Jay Hickey. “Even though we could have used a few more timely hits, the big thing was up 2-0 and we gave them that one run and we came right back and got a third run.”
In the ninth, Hitt led off by reaching on an infield error. After a fly-out, Alex Champagne drew a walk. Ogorzalek struck out Zach Weigert with a nasty curve-ball but Chmelowski (2-for-4) lined a single to left to load the bases. Ogorzalek then ended it in dramatic fashion by fanning Steve Leonard.
“Let’s just say I’ve done that a few times before when I go in to close for an inning,” said Ogorzalek. “I had confidence I could get out of it once I started to get a feel for my curveball.”
RCP’s opponents in the Super Regionals at Bristol – a double-elimination format with four teams – will be Zone 6 champion Waterford, Zone 1 champion Simsbury and Zone 8 champion Tolland.
The Bristol winner will meet the Stamford regional winner for the state championship.
“We’re positive,” said Hickey. “We haven’t decided yet who we’re going to throw on Saturday. But it’s a nice problem to have.”