New Canaan's storybook run ends in L finals
The Fitch Falcons survived a shay start and came off the deck to beat the New Canaan Rams in the Class L state championship, 6-4, played at Palmer Field in Middletown.
"I reminded my guys after New Canaan scored three runs in their first bat-bat that we've still got 18 outs remaining. Nobody panicked and we came up big in two-out situations" winning coach Marc Peluso said.
Both starting pitchers went all the way; Shawn Nadau for the Falcons (four runs, five hits, four walks, 10 strikeouts, 1 hit-by-pitch) and Dan Rajkowski for the Rams (six runs, eight hits with no strikeouts or walks).
Playing in its first state title game in 40 years, New Canaan had a three-run first inning on an opening walk, two consecutive botched sacrifice bunts – the first on a short pop in front of the plate and the second on an overthrow. The overthrow scored Casey Oullette With runners on second and third, Willie Burger drove one to right field where it was misjudged and went for a triple scoring two more for a 3-0 lead.
Fitch scored its' first run in the home third when Aaron Hill's grounder to short was thrown past first base. Hill wound up at second. David Hall hit a rocket to right center for a triple that easily scored Hill. They got another run when Hall scored on a groundout. It was 3-2 after three innings.
Fitch tied the game in the following inning. With two out, Jonathan Conley hit a Baltimore Chop over the pitcher's mound for a hit. After Conley stole second Chris Corum-Giles bunted for a hit and when Oullette overthrew first base Conley scored the tying run. (Oullette threw out two runners on steal attempts.)
In the fifth inning, the Falcons threatened to take the lead when Casali made a "play-of-the game" catch. Hill hit one on the nail to dead center that was headed for the 400 ft. sign on a hop. Casili got a good jump, and at full-sprint caught at full-stretch. It was a sure triple and a possible inside-the-park homer
Tied at 3-all in the sixth, New Canaan took the lead once again. Rajkowski singled to center and was wild-pitched to second. Nick Cascione scored him with a solid single to right giving the Rams a 4-3 lead; four outs away from the title.
Once again, Fitch struck with two out. This time a bad hop grounder kept the inning alive. It went for a single. Another infield hit put runners on first and second. Conley singled to cementer tying the game at 4-4.
Corum-Giles broke it open for good with a booming triple to right center scoring two and giving the Falcons a 6-4 lead.
"I've been in a slump lately and have been trying to hit down on the ball instead of uppercutting it. It really felt good to deliver," said Corum-Giles.
"They are a senior-laden team and a very good one,"said Hoffman. "I want our younger kids (like pitchers Rajkowski, RJ Anderson and Cascione – all sophomores) to feel this. I hope our older kids have set the tone for them.
Fitch concludes the season with a 22-3 record. New Canaan finished at 14-11.