MIDDLETOWN >> The Shoreline Conference baseball tournament gets underway today with four quarterfinal round matchups hosted by tops seeds East Hampton, Cromwell, Haddam-Killingworth and Portland.
The semifinals take place on Thursday (May 29) and the championship is Saturday (7 p.m.) at Dodd Stadium in Norwich.
No. 1 seed East Hampton will be vying for their third league title in four years. The defending champion Bellringers, who are led by one of the state’s top senior high school pro prospects in pitcher/infielder Marvin Gorgas, also captured the Shoreline title in 2008 and 2011.
“It’s the fun part of the season now,” said East Hampton coach Scott Wosleger. “During the regular season you try to stay away from losing streaks and you’re setting up your rotation and trying to get in a decent position for your league and state tournaments.”
Westbrook, North Branford, Morgan and Lyme-Old Lyme have also qualified for the tournament.
“Once you are in anything can happen and I believe that’s true this season more than ever with these eight teams,” Wosleger added.
Here’s a look at Tuesday’s quarterfinal round matchups.
No. 8 Old Lyme (9-11, 8-9) at No. 1 East Hampton (18-2, 15-2) >> After a season-opening loss at Portland, the Bellringers reeled off 11 straight victories.
Who snapped the streak? Old Lyme, which edged East Hampton, 1-0, on May 12.
The Wildcats have a history of playing well in the SLC tourney under coach Randy St. Germaine.
“Old Lyme is well-coached and they’ve got some players who can definitely beat you,” said Wosleger.
East Hampton defeated Old Lyme, 8-1, on April 19.
Gorgas, who hasn’t given up a run in 33 consecutive innings, Zachary Johnson and Zachary Harrington have been terrific as a three-man pitching rotation for the Bellringers.
No. 7 Morgan (10-10, 9-9) at No. 2 Cromwell (17-3, 15-3) >> How close were the Panthers from going undefeated this season?
Cromwell only lost three one-run games to East Hampton (1-0), Portland (3-2) and H-K (2-1).
The Panthers, winners of seven of their last eight, blanked Morgan twice (8-0 and 3-0) this year.
Like East Hampton, Cromwell’s pitching rotation of Logan Lessard (Bryant), Jake Regula and Tucker Lord has been outstanding.
The Panthers won this tournament in 2012.
No. 6 North Branford (11-9, 10-8) at No. 3 Haddam-Killingworth (14-6, 13-5) >> The teams split 1-0 contest during the regular season.
The T-birds are 7-2 in their last nine, while the Cougars have won four of their last five.
Senior Griffin Bremer (Southern CT State) and junior Brian Moskey give the Cougars a terrific 1-2 pitching punch.
H-K coach Mark Brookes, who recently celebrated his 600th career win, has guided the Cougars to 10 SLC championships, the last in 2010.
No. 5 Westbrook (13-7, 10-7) at No. 4 Portland (11-9, 10-7) >> The teams split two games during the regular season.
The Knights, who are led by senior Sam Grigo (Brown), have won seven of their last nine games.
In Nick Adamsons, Cole Ogorzalek, Jason Staub, Jacob Strong, and Hayden Manning, the Highlanders just might have enough pitching to make some noise in this tournament.
The semifinal round matchups on Thursday, also at the site of the higher seeds, are Westbrook-Portland winner versus Old Lyme-East Hampton winner, and North Branford-H-K winner versus Morgan-Cromwell winner.
“We look at the postseason as a new season and we try not to worry too much,” said Wosleger. “We’ve worked hard all year so now let’s just go out and play.”
Updates every minute – View full tournament