MERIDEN — Stamford right fielder Reid Gesualdi got a little extra motivation when Southington intentionally walked Joey Skarad ahead of him, loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth.
Gesualdi made Southington pay, ripping a single down the right-field line, driving in two runs and lifting Stamford to a 2-1 win over Southington in Game 1 of the Senior American Legion State Championship Series.
“I got a little fired up, inside. They were challenging me and I knew I had to come up big for my team and I did,” Gesualdi said. ”I was just looking for a fastball, but he got two strikes on me, so, I sat back and reacted to the curve and I hit it over the first baseman. This is big. Winning this first game gives us a big benefit going into Saturday.”
Stamford and Southington will play Game 2 on Saturday at 1 p.m. back at Ceppa Field.
If Southington wins that game, the two teams will play again 45 minutes after game two.
— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) August 2, 2019
Both starting pitchers, Matt Tiplady for Stamford and Nick Borkowski for Southington were on point all evening, not allowing any runs going into the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Southington’s Jeremy Mercier singled to left, coming in to score on a two-out double off the left-field fence by Josh Panarella.
With a runner on second and two outs, Stamford’s Bobby Cribbin made a diving catch in centerfield coming in, keeping the Southington lead at 1-0.
Stamford got going in the bottom of the sixth with Jaden Dawkins using his speed to help force a throwing error by the Southington third baseman.
Dawkins then stole second, getting to third on a bunt single down the third baseline by Michael Berlingo.
Berlingo stole second.
After a flyout to center for the first out of the inning, Southington walked Skarad, loading the bases for Gesualdi, who drove in Dawkins and Berlingo.
“That was a great baseball game. They made a big play in the end,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said. “We were right there with those guys. We are here for a reason. Ninety-nine percent of the people are counting us out tomorrow but we are going to try and shock the world tomorrow.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Tiplady, Stamford. The lefty struck out four, giving up four hits in picking up the complete-game victory. Tiplay consistently worked ahead in the count and let his defense clean up behind him.
“I know the way Reid (Gesualdi) swings it, he can drop a hit anytime. It paid off there with a huge hit. That’s a huge win for our program,” Stamford coach Kevin Murray said. “Tiplady pitched a gem. We were hungry. Southington is a heck of a baseball team over there and there was not much between us tonight. Game of inches and we got the inch tonight.”