KILLINGWORTH >> Coginchaug Boys Majors (11-12) Little League manager Joe Fournier’s team has been on a roll this season. He credits a combination of items for its success including depth, solid defense and pitching along with timely, clutch hitting.
Every phase of that combination was on display Friday against Mystic in the Section 3 championship game.
Starting pitcher Mike Garofalo struck out nine through 3 2/3 innings and went 3-for-3 with two walks, five RBIs and five runs scored, including a three-run home run and solo homer, to lead Coginchaug to a 17-7 win over Mystic in the Section 3 final at Sheldon Park.
Chris Carafeno went 2-for-3, including a three-run homer, and scored four runs and Alex Mach belted a two-run homer for Coginchaug (9-1).
“Every single player on our team has had a big hit this season and our guys play solid defense every game,” Fournier said. “Tonight all our players came through but there is something else that has been a strength for our team. Our guys play with a lot of heart and they are good in the head, with the mentalaspect of the game.
“It’s a great feeling to win the sectional championship. But honestly, Mystic is a great team and we were just happy to be in the same championship game with them.”
The win avenges a Section 3 pool play loss to Mystic on Wednesday when Mystic came away with a 5-4 walk-off win.
Coginachaug advances to the Connecticut championship final four and will face the Section 4 winner (to be determined) in the first game on Wednesday at Detorre Field in Manchester at 7:15 p.m.
“When I play, my focus is to do whatever I can to help my team,” said Garofalo, who improved to 4-0. “Tonight with my pitching, I really got in a good rhythm and I was also getting all the calls. Both my home runs came off of fastballs. I never go up there trying to hit homers. It just happens. Winning our District (9) and now the Sectional is exciting. We’re all having a lot of fun.”
Mach’s two-run homer capped a four-run second inning and Garofalo’s three-run homer in the third inning gave Coginchaug a 9-0 lead.
“That four-run second inning was a turning point for us and gave us some momentum,” Fournier said. “But the big thing was Mike (Garofalo) shutting them down the next inning.”
Cam McGugan led Mystic with a three-run homer and double and Ryan O’Connor added a double, single, three runs scored and an RBI.