SCC champ Amity blanks Ludlowe
If this is Amity’s idea of a letdown, the rest of the Class LL state tournament field should stand up and take notice.
As if it hasn’t already.
Just three days removed from winning the Southern Connecticut Conference championship, the seventh-seeded Spartans showed no signs of lethargy, using the big bat of standout senior shortstop Vin Siena and the arm of junior right-hander Mike Concato to post a decisive 11-0 victory over No. 26 Fairfield Ludlowe on a hot Tuesday afternoon at Jenenda Field in Woodbridge.
Concato, Amity’s ace, pitched five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks, allowing just four hits to pick up his 10th win of the season.
Siena, who will play at UConn next season, finished a single shy of a cycle, collecting a home run, triple, double, four RBIs and three runs scored as Amity (19-5) shot out of the gate with two runs in the bottom of the first off senior left-hander Tim Moran (3-4) and led 5-0 after three.
“I was really happy with the way we refocused today,” Amity head coach Sal Coppola said. “We had a lousy infield/outfield and I huddled the kids together and told them they better wake up. They really came out swinging.”
Amity will look to take the same approach against SCC rival Xavier (15-6) in a second-round game Wednesday in Woodbridge. The 10th-seeded Falcons posted a 4-3 victory over No. 23 West Haven, another SCC team, in the first round.
“Earlier in the year we just weren’t into the games enough,” Siena said. “Then we started turning it on in the SCC (tournament). We really wanted to win it and we knew it was do-or-die time. Now were just trying to carry that into the states.”
Ludlowe (9-12), which didn’t clinch a spot in the tournament until the final game of the regular season, got back-to-back two-out singles by catcher Mike Poudrier (2-for-3) and centerfielder Charlie Meder (2-for-3) in the top of the first and a leadoff single by Tommy Howell in the second, but couldn’t come up with a clutch hit.
Things got progressively worse after that. Concato got better as the game wore on and the Amity offense never slowed down, collecting 12 hits on the day.
“Any time you have to travel 45 minutes on a 91-degree day in the state tournament, it’s a tough assignment,” Ludlowe head coach Kevin O’Rourke said. “But we earned that right by the way we played during the regular season.”
With just three seniors on its roster, O’Rourke is hoping his young team uses the loss, and the entire season, as a learning experience.
“We return 95 percent of our team next year and I hope these guys remember how this feels,” O’Rourke said. “We want to get to a point where people know they have to come to play when they face us. The potential was there this year. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Concato performed well under pressure during the early innings, getting the final out of the first on an infield groundout after allowing two straight singles. A single and a bunt gave Ludlowe a man on second with one out in the second, but Concato struck out the next two in order to end the inning.
Concato got himself into a groove after that, pithcing to just nine batters over the next three innings, striking out four while getting a nice 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth.
Amity took some pressure off Concato’s back with two runs in the first on a leadoff single by Keith Klebert, Siena’s RBI-double and an RBI-single by designated hitter Paul Gusmano (2-for-2, two RBIs).
The Spartans erased it with three more in the third.
“Mike’s the type of kid who tends to bear down with people on base,” Coppola said. “I give him a lot of credit. They came out aggressive, but he mixed it up and never let them get too confident.”
Siena displayed a solid glove at short, finishing with four assists on the day. His offensive performance was even more impressive.
Siena, whose father played at Quinnipiac during the late 1980’s, drove a double into the gap in right-center to make it 2-0 in the first. After a leadoff walk by Klebart and a single by Grayson Amoroso in the third, Siena blasted a two-run triple off the fence in right. That made it 4-0 before Gusmano followed with a sacrifice fly.
With one out in the fifth, Siena sat on a 3-1 fastball from right-handed reliever Stephen Zadravec and drove it well over the fence in left center to put the game away at 6-0.
Needing just a single to complete the cycle in the sixth, Siena flied out to center on a 1-2 count.
“I was definitely thinking about it,” Siena said. “I think that’s why I made an out. I was trying too hard to drive the ball.”
Amity also played errorless baseball, turning two double plays in the process. That included a nifty 4-6-3 twin killing in the seventh courtesy of a fantastic diving pickup on a short hop up the middle by reserve second baseman Josh Sabitsky, who doubled in his only plate appearance.
“Our defense was huge today,” Coppola said. “Vinny played great shortstop today, and the kid we put in at second base isn’t really a defense replacement. He actually one of our utility players, as you saw by that play he made at the end.”
Amity received solid relief pitching from senior Austin Pokluda and junior Chris Cimmino, each of whom threw one scoreless inning.
The Spartans added two more runs in the fifth after Siena’s home run on a hit batter, singles by Concato and starting second baseman Jake Russo and a throwing error on a double-play attempt.
Amity tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth in two walks, a wild pitch, a two-out single by Anthony Capoziello and a two-run single by Ray Moquet.