CROMWELL >> Six-time Zone 7 champions RCP began its quest for their first state legion baseball title with a 7-0 victory over Windsor Locks Wednesday at Monnes Field.
“I keep telling them, we’re in it for the long haul,” said RCP coach Jay Hickey.
The best-of-three sectional final series continues today at 2 p.m. at Cromwell High. If necessary, the deciding game will follow at 5 p.m.
“We’re not going to throw in the towel,” said Windsor Locks coach Rusty Mattesen. “We’re going to come back tomorrow and pitch our number one. Hopefully, we can win one and change the momentum.”
Mattesen is hoping his ace, Quinnipiac-bound righthander Robbie Hitt, can match Jake Regula’s performance on the mound Wednesday. It’s one tough act to follow.
Regula was simply mesmerizing. The righthander struck out 19, including 12 in a row, and allowed four hits in eight innings before Tucker Lord pitched a scoreless ninth.
“I heard he’s going to Wheaton College to play basketball but I think he ought to reconsider,” said Mattesen. “He’s a very good pitcher, probably the best we’ve seen this year.”
Mixing a lively fastball with a terrific curve, Regula ended the first inning with a strikeout. He struck out the side in the second, third and fourth innings, then fanned the first two batters in the fifth. His streak of 12 straight Ks ended when Bobby Clark hit a rising liner to short that a leaping Christian Budzik knocked down for an infield hit. Jake Chmelowski followed with a bloop single to right but Regula ended the threat with another strikeout.
“It took me awhile to get my curveball down,” said Regula, who has struck out 15 or more four times this summer. “I didn’t get it until about the bottom of the third inning. My fastball felt good all day. I was just able to locate. Kevin (Radziewicz) did a great job behind the plate and my defense played great behind me.”
RCP (19-5) took advantage off four errors to build a 3-0 lead through six innings against Windsor Locks starter Brian Cooper (6.2 innings, eight hits, two earned runs).
Budzik, however, led off the seventh with a double to left center. Cole Ogorzalek reached on a bunt single and Budzik scored on an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by
Radziewicz. Chris Bouchard followed with an RBI single and RCP led, 5-0.
RCP loaded the bases in the eighth against relievers Rob Walters and Troy Hastings, and added two more runs on Tom Seaver’s RBI single and Radziewicz’s sacrifice fly.
Bouchard, Budzik and Ogorzalek each had two hits to lead RCP’s 10-hit attack.
“We had some good workouts and practices just to tune up a few things and work on hitting,” Hickey explained. “It hurt us at the end of the year and hopefully we’ll continue tomorrow. We’re facing a very good pitcher.”
Hitt was the winning pitcher in Windsor Locks’ 3-2 tourney opening win against Tri-County.
Windsor Locks (19-11), who were the Zone 8 runnerups to Tolland, then reached the sectional finals with an 8-1 victory over Moosup.
“Expectation-wise at the beginning of the year, we’re further than I thought we’d be,” added Mattesen.
RCP will counter with lefthander Logan Lessard today in game two of the best-of-three.
“I think we’re all just kind of hungry for a (state title),” said Regula. “We lost it a couple of times in the past and we’re ready to make a run at it now. It’s definitely going to be a ride.”