The New Milford 16-18 Babe Ruth baseball team did not enter the state tournament with the expectation of being crowned champions, yet they found themselves victorious in the winner takes all championship game on Friday night.
After a loss in the first championship game against Stamford on Wednesday, New Milford rebounded to the ‘if game’ 7-3 to claim the state championship.
New Milford’s victory becomes all the more impressive when you take into account the team had a large disadvantage. In a tournament of 18 year olds and younger, New Milford does not carry a single 18-year-old on its roster.
“I did not think we were going to win,” New Milford coach Carl Profita said. “We are playing a bunch of 18-year-old kids. Some of them are in college, some of them graduated high school. Everybody on this team either just finished their junior or sophomore year of high school.”
The team was led in the game, and for the majority of the tournament by leadoff hitter and pitcher Sergey Holcomb.
Holcomb was given the nod as the starter in the final game and he pitched his way through 5.1 innings, allowing three runs and striking out four on his way to earning the win.
Offensively Holcomb delivered as well, reaching base safely in four out of five plate appearances and scoring three runs. He was also one of few bright spots from game one in which he was 2-4 with a double in his team’s shutout loss.
“Mr. Holcomb was our rock,” Protifa said. “He was the tournament MVP. The kid’s got guts. He has no fear; he just gets the job done both ways. He gets it done pitching and he gets it done hitting. He’s an awesome player.”
New Milford got on the board almost immediately after Holcomb was walked to lead off the game and was followed by Jack Zogarolli reaching on an error by the Stamford third basemen. Both baserunners would come around to score to give New Milford a 2-0 lead.
Holcomb settled in on the mound immediately, surrendering just a one out single before retiring the side.
New Milford took advantage of another Stamford error in the second inning, when Holcomb singled and came around to score on an error by the shortstop off the bat of Jack Hayes to push the lead to 3-0.
Holcomb cruised through the second and worked himself out of a jam in the third inning, striking out two batters with runners on second and third.
Continued sloppy defense cost Stamford in the fourth inning as back-to-back errors led to two more New Milford runs.
Stamford responded with a run of its own in the bottom half and New Milford pushed two more across in the top of the fifth to lead 7-1.
Holcomb worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning but was chased from the game with one out in the sixth after allowing two runs on a walk and consecutive hits.
Peter Coniglio replaced Holcomb on the mound and was able to slam the door out of the bullpen to secure the 7-3 lead.
New Milford will be representing the state of Connecticut in the Regional Tournament in Keene, New Hampshire as it will look to continue to showcase its young talent.