MERIDEN — There couldn’t be a weirder path to a no-hitter than the one Cheshire’s American Legion team took Monday at Ceppa Field.
That path will take them right back here Tuesday for the state Southern Super Regional final, a rematch against Southington. If Cheshire wins, they’ll play again Wednesday.
Cheshire topped Naugatuck 13-0 in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule. Ben Shadeck and Cole Feinauer combined on a no-hitter, walking three and hitting a batter.
“I didn’t even realize it was a no-hitter,” Shadeck said. “It’s just a nice feeling going on, and now facing Southington tomorrow.”
Southington beat Cheshire 4-0 on Sunday to clinch its spot in Tuesday’s final at 6:30 p.m. Cheshire needed to come back against Naugatuck.
And from the start, things got strange. Cheshire’s first four batters walked in the bottom of the first. Cheshire collected seven hits but 12 walks.
The attack included a two-run infield single. At Naugatuck’s first pitching change, seven players changed positions (eight, if you include the designated hitter going into the field).
One of the two who didn’t move was center fielder D.J. Kirpas. When he did move, to the mound in the bottom of the third, it precipitated a moment in which Naugatuck manager Ron Plasky and son Corey were ejected.
But by then, Cheshire was well on its way.
“Jumping out to, what, four runs, then getting the 10th run, as a pitcher, you can’t ask much better than that,” Shadeck said. “Pitching with a lead is so comforting. It’s great to have (shortstop Ben) Schena and the whole defense behind me.”
Shadeck threw just 28 pitches and expected to start Tuesday against Southington.
“If you keep that (Sunday loss) in your head, that’s all you’re going to worry about, and that’s how you’re going to play,” Shadeck said.
Naugatuck had two pitchers face four batters without recording an out.
“We ran out of bullets, like I told (the players),” Ron Plasky said.
“In this format, if you don’t have enough pitching, it’s going to find you real easy. We had the pitching. We just couldn’t keep it sustained without the days off, having to play two games Thursday (in the regional) and come back Saturday/Sunday (in the super regional).”
Cheshire scored four in the first inning with one hit, five walks and an error contributing.
It tacked on six in the second. Ryan Cyr’s hard grounder to the left side with the bases loaded ticked off the glove of diving third baseman Derrick Jagello into no-man’s land, and two runs scored. Matt Geyda hit a two-run double later.
In the third, when Kirpas came in from center to pitch, Plasky said, the outfielder told him he needed to change gloves.
“I said ‘don’t worry about it, D.J., we’ve got lights.’ And that set (the plate umpire) off,” the manager said, saying he’s not sure if the umpire thought he was trying to delay the game or show him up. Plasky said the umpire got confrontational.
“I hate that it takes away from the game, takes away from Cheshire, takes away from what our kids have accomplished,” Plasky said. “I mean, any baseball, you don’t want that to happen, but American Legion, where everything’s about respect, respect the game, respect your country, all that we’ve been preaching to the kids.
“It’s one thing if you get caught up in the heat of the moment, but again, it was a 12-0 game.”
CHESHIRE 13, NAUGATUCK 0 (5 inn.)
NAUGATUCK000 00— 0 0 3
CHESHIRE463 0X—13 7 1
Batteries: N—Griffin Browne (L), Jon Chatfield (1), Will McDonald (3), D.J. Kirpas (3) and Jarrett Allen; C—Ben Shadeck, Cole Feinauer (3, W) and Cole Escoto.