MIDDLEFIELD >> It’s been quite a baseball summer for the Coginchaug Little League program.
Coginchaug’s Intermediate Division All-Star team completed a state championship series sweep with a 9-4 victory over Fairfield American Sunday night at Peckham Park in Middlefield. It was Coginchaug’s second straight Intermediate 50/70 state title.
Earlier this month, the kids from Durham and Middlefield captured the 11-12 baseball and softball District 9 championships. That’s an amazing triple crown for League president Scott Strang and Company.
“The real winners in Durham and Coginchaug were the 12 year old boys and girls,” said Coginchaug Intermediate manager Keith Pascarelli, who coached the 11-12 District team a year ago. “That’s the premier division. Not 50/70. I don’t want to take anything away from us but them winning districts is more than us winning a state championship. I wish we could have done it.”
Pascarelli was being humble. His Intermediate team, however, is a force to be reckoned with.
Combining great pitching with a powerful line-up – Coginchaug has been blasting four or five homers a game – Pascarelli’s team was impressive in their state title quest. In fact, its top four hitters – John Penney, Kolby Pascarelli, TJ Islieb, and Owen Clancy – hit four consecutive home runs earlier this season.
Pascarelli and Islieb also blasted three homers each in one game during Coginchaug’s tourney run.
On Saturday, Coginchaug won the opener of this best-of-three series in mercy-rule fashion when Islieb’s three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth made it 14-4. Pascarelli, who hit two homers, struck out 10 to earn the pitching win. Blake Courschesne also homered for Coginchaug.
Fairfield, which advanced to the final after defeating East Haven in the Section I series, got a two-run homer from Rhys Davies in game one.
“We have a lot of talent and Fairfield’s a great baseball town,” Fairfield American manager Phil DiGennaro said. “I thought we really had a good shot to come out and represent our district here. We knew it was going to be an uphill battle. But you show up and compete. What’s the point of coming if you don’t think you can win?”
Fairfield jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead on Sunday behind an RBI double from Chris Domizio and a three-run homer by Jacob Bermudez.
“We looked sharp early and I wish we could have sustained the offense but they’re a good hitting team and they just kept coming,” DiGennaro said.
Griffin Biro drilled a two-run homer to left and Pascarelli’s RBI single cut Fairfield’s lead to 4-3 in the second.
Coginchaug’s relentless offensive attack was at it again in the third and fourth innings. Clancy led off the third with a single, winning pitcher John Vumback smacked an RBI double, and Chris Sawka’s RBI single lifted Coginchaug to a 5-4 advantage.
Islieb’s two-run homer over everything in center made it 7-4 in the fourth inning.
Vumback was terrific after the rocky start. He allowed just one hit after the four-run first and finished with 10 strikeouts. Biro came on in relief after Vumback reached his 95-pitch limit.
“The boys really sucked it up after that first inning,” Pascarelli said. “Everybody contributed up and down the order. That’s really what shows a good team.”
Domizio struck out six in 4.2 innings for Fairfield.
“Chris is a great player and he deserved better,” DiGennaro said.
Little League started the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division in 2010. It is designed for 12 and 13-year-olds to make the transition from Little League to the big diamond by utilizing a 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths.
“It’s a great transition from the small field,” DiGennaro added. “For 13-year olds it’s a great thing to do and we’re mostly 12-year olds. We really took to it well. I’m proud of my guys.
Coginchaug advanced to this weekend’s regional tournament in Commack, Long Island. The Intermediate Division World Series takes place in Livermore, California (July 31-Aug. 7).
“I wanted to go away with these kids one more time,” Pascarelli said. “We’re looking forward to it. I’m excited. Everyone’s having a great time.”