WILLIMANTIC — Oh, the pain.
The pain of leaving the bases loaded four times in a game. The pain of going to an eighth-inning tiebreaker system and losing.
The pain of seeing the game-winning run score on a correct but subjective call overturn.
And those were the memories from the opening day of the first-ever Connecticut Little League Baseball State Tournament appearance for the Max Sinoway (North Haven) All-Stars.
It all added up to the lasting pain of a 5-4, eight inning loss to Simsbury Saturday night in the four team, double-elimination tournament.
The loss means Section 1 champ Sinoway is fighting for its tournament life Sunday at 5 p.m. as it meets Section 4 champ Brooklyn-Pomfret in an elimination contest at Mooney Haddad field.
“I told the kids that it’s not over. We just have to do it the hard way,” Sinoway manager Angelo Romano said. “We can win four games in a row. Tonight, we took too many called strike threes. Simsbury had a great pitching staff.”
Sinoway managed just four hits in the battle. But used a number of walks and hit batsmen to score two runs in the fifth for a 3-3 tie that forced extra innings.
The bad news was Sinoway left the bases loaded in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Sinoway had the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth but managed just one run.
Section 2 champion Simsbury rode a two-run homer by Andrew Mikan to its 3-0 edge.
When the game reached the top of the eighth tied, it meant that each team would start their half-inning with a runner on second base.
Simsbury used an RBI double by winning pitcher Max Williams (63 pitches over three innings) for 4-3. Simsbury scored a second run when a play at the plate was called safe after the determination the Sinoway catcher didn’t leave the runner a clear path to home plate.
That proved painful when Sinoway left the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth.
Sinoway will face Brooklyn-Pomfret with three pitchers resting Sunday due to how many pitches they threw Saturday.
MADISON IN DRIVER’S SEAT
It was a perfect day for Madison, out of Section 3, as they defeated Brooklyn-Pomfret, 5-3.
The win means Madison faces Simsbury Sunday at 2 p.m. in Willimantic.
On Saturday, Madison scored three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to overcome a 3-0 Brooklyn-Pomfret edge.
In the fourth, Rocco Zagami laced an RBI double. Then two runs scored on Morris Selmani’s sacrifice fly and an error.
In the fifth, Paul Calandrelli ripped a two-out, two-run double for the winning runs. Calandrelli then got the final eight outs on the mound to secure the Madison victory.
“On the double, the count was 3-and-0 and the coach gave me the green light to swing. It wasn’t a perfect pitch but I put it in play,” Calandrelli recounted. “It was an inside fastball and I turned on it. I don’t pitch often. But today I relied on my curve to keep their hitters off-balance.”
Madison manager James Maynard was thrilled with the fast start in the state tournament.
“Winning the opener gives us a ton of confidence to take into Sunday,” Maynard said. “Win or lose Sunday, we still have a shot at this title. I wasn’t surprised because this team has come back to win so many games in the District and the Section. This team has the pedigree to do great things.”