SHELTON —Someone’s winning streak had to come to an end, and when the final out was recorded it was Union City from Naugatuck who captured the District 3 championship with a 4-1 victory over George J. Hummel from Seymour at Sunnyside Field.
“This is the first time since 1996 that our 12’s won districts,” Union City manager Don Shivas said. “It’s been a fun ride with a great group of kids. We had to defeat town rival P..J. Foley to get here and that brought out the best in both teams. Tonight, we had to beat a team that had won five in a row.”
George J. Hummel (GHLL) had opened play with a 14-1 loss to Beacon Falls, then manager Steve George’s combine rattled off wins over Derby 13-0, Prospect 7-0, Shelton American 4-3, Shelton National 5-4 and then P.J. Foley 4-0 in the loser’s bracket final.
The first inning promised this matchup was going to be a barnburner.
Union City (UC) used three errors to go in front 1-0 in the top of the frame.
GHLL hit three consecutive singles in its first turn in the batter’s box. Rob Carrafiello’s single drove in Joey Carrafiello, who had beaten out a bunt and went to third on Jake George’s solid hit to right field.
UC right-hander Damon Abate retired the next three batters.
While UC tacked on two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, Abate kept GHLL threats to a minimum. Anthony Cortello was the only hitter to solve him, with a two-out single to left in the second and a base hit to right with one down in the fifth.
“This feels great to win here for our league,” Abate said. “My fastball on the outside corner was my go-to pitch. Once I got two strikes, I tried to go up the ladder. We all pick each other up.”
After throwing 27 pitches in the first two innings, Abate needed only eight to set GHLL down the next two times up. He used only 53 pitches in the complete-game performance. Abate didn’t walk a batter and struck out four.
“This has been truly a team effort,” said Shivas, who was assisted by Sean McLaughlin and Kris Abate. “They care for each other, joke with each other, and they respond to coaching. They are better after every practice than before.”
Union City’s two-run rally came with two out in the fourth off GHLL righty Anthony Marchetti. He had put 9 of 10 batters away before Billy Muran stroked his second single of the game. Chris Weelow drew the first walk for UC and Jason Heyward knocked in pinch runner Nicky Montini with a clean single to center.
Brayden Edgeworth’s misplayed grounder brought another run across. It could have been more, but GHLL catcher Cortello made a great tag at home on the play to end the inning.
Abate walked with one out in the fifth, went to third on JoJo Guzman’s single, and scored on Anthony Shivas’ fielder’s choice grounder. GHLL shortstop Rob Carrafiello did a great job getting the ball to Dylan Banks-Nettle at second, who stayed on the bag to make the play against a sliding Guzman.
That would be all the scoring.
Muran had singled to open the UC second. Marchetti made a good play on a chopper to the right side. Starting catcher Jacob Britto then threw out Muran trying to advance to third.
Abate used his speed to beat out an infield hit in the third only to be stranded.
UC catcher Colin Sanderson showed off his skills when he pounced on Nate Nevers’ fine bunt and threw a laser to Muran for the third out in the home fourth.
In the UC sixth, Heyward singled and Montini ripped a hard ball to center. Joey Carrafiello came up throwing to Ron Carrafiello at second to get the force out.
UC third baseman Anthony Shivas used his glove and strong arm to retire four batters.
“We had our backs to the wall after our loss,” GHLL manager Steve George said. “Union City did a good job knocking one team off after another. We tried to stay close. They didn’t make any mistakes and we did.”
For many of UC players, this is their third consecutive summer winning a title. They were champions at 10U and 11U the past two seasons. UC defeated Shelton National 11-1, Prospect 12-0, Robert A. Cole of Beacon Falls 12-1 and P.J. Foley 10-7.