MERIDEN — It was quite a day for the Wainwright family at Ceppa Field Sunday.
TJ Wainwright hit the go-ahead home run for Stamford in the fourth inning.
The starting shortstop also pitched five scoreless innings of relief, picking up the win as No. 2 Stamford topped No. 4 Naugatuck 9-5 in the Southern Super Regional of the Senior American Legion State Tournament.
As if that were not enough, Wainwright’s father won the 50/50 raffle held during the game.
“I have been asking all season to pitch and they finally let me. I pitched in like three or four games this season but never that much,” Wainwright said. “My arm always feels live throwing across the infield and it felt like that on the mound.”
Stamford moves on to the Super Regional final Tuesday while Naugatuck will play an elimination game against Cheshire Monday at 6:30 at Ceppa Field.
Naugatuck got the ball rolling in the top of the first, scoring three times, aided by two Stamford infield errors.
Justin Marks, Derrick Jagello and Michael Natkiel each drove in runs for Naugatuck in the first.
Stamford answered right back with two of its own in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Reid Gesualdi, scoring Noah Skaug and TJ Wainwright.
Naugatuck kept it rolling in the top of the second on a two-run double by Zach Bedryczuk, scoring Marks and Nick Bruno.
Wainwright would not allow another Naugatuck run after taking over on the hill in the top of the third.
“Obviously, we started out hot. Scoring five runs in the first two innings, things are looking pretty good,” Naugatuck coach Mark Nofri said. “(Stamford) is a great hitting team and I knew five runs was not going to be enough.”
Stamford took the lead with four runs in the fourth, capped by a two-run home run to dead centerfield by Wainwright.
Jaden Dawkins drove in a run in the fourth on a double off the fence in left, scoring Bobby Cribbin.
Stamford got some insurance in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run home run to left by Joey Skarad, scoring Wainwright.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
TJ Wainwright, Stamford. Wainwright did it all. He was 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run, double and three runs scored while striking out three and only giving up two hits over five innings.
“We played a lot of games the last week and a half and this game was huge because now we have a buffer and somebody has to beat us twice,” Stamford coach Kevin Murray said. “This is a tough bracket to get through and getting through the first to days with two wins is so big.”
CHESHIRE 4, HAMDEN 3
Many of the players on the Cheshire Senior American Legion team have been playing together since they were eight-years-old.
They have won Legion and CIAC championships the last few years and were not ready to see their run end Sunday in the Southern Super Regional of the American Legion state tournament.
No. 1 Cheshire rallied to tie the game in the sixth, scoring twice to tie it.
After No. 3 Hamden retook the lead in the top of the seventh, Cheshire fought back again, capped by a walk-off double down the right field line by Ben Schena, scoring two runs and keeping Cheshire alive one more day.
“First and second, not outs, the plan was to bunt… but I didn’t get it down,” Schena said. “He left a fastball middle-in and I just drove it. I’m not used to hitting balls to the fence. I am more of a base hit kind of guy but it felt awesome.”
Eli Battapaglia walked leading off the bottom of the seventh and Paul Villecco reached on a bunt single ahead of Schena.
“It sucks that it ended like that but that’s baseball,” Hamden coach Ray Guarino said. “We had our chances to add on to a 2-0 lead and we didn’t and that’s what happens. Credit to Cheshire, they were a great team all year.”
Hamden had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh with Ethan Shepard scoring from second on a throwing error by the shortstop on a groundball by CJ Kuselias.
Neither team has scored a run in the Super regionals until Hamden got two in the top of the sixth.
Tyler Osborne’s bases-loaded, swinging bunt was mishandled by the pitcher, allowing Mike Aceto to score.
Hamden went up 2-0 on a sharp single to right by Henry Bielen.
Cheshire would fight back in the bottom of the sixth with Ian Battapaglia and Robert Roles driving in runs with singles.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ben Schena, Cheshire. Along with the game-winning hit, Schena was 4-for-4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs.
“I have been coaching these guys since they were little kids and this is not the first time we have seen this happen,” Cheshire coach John Escoto said. “They are a gritty, scrappy group of kids. (Schena) is one of the grittiest of all of them. He’s probably the smartest baseball player we have on the team.”