The Newtown One-Eyed Cats defeated Danbury 6-2 to win the Cal Ripken 11-year-old division Connecticut state baseball championship at Mitchell Park in Bethel on July 27. Newtown won the first three games of the tournament and had to defeat defending New England Regional Champion Danbury one time in two tries to win the championship. Danbury defeated Newtown 6-4 on July 26 to force a winner-take-all game the next day.
The Cats played errorless baseball in the field in the last three games of the tournament, en route to the title. Newtown (16-3) advances to the New England Regional Tournament which will begin August 3 in Dover, NH. Danbury also advances to the regional tourney because only teams from three New England states compete at the 11-year-old level on the larger field with 50 foot distance from home to pitcher’s rubber and 70 feet between the bases.
In the final game, Newtown’s defense set the tone when with no outs and a man on first in the first inning, Danbury standout Javon Hernandez hit a ball to shortstop Michael Cotton who flipped to second baseman Luke Barrett who fired to first baseman Todd Petersen to turn a double play on the speedy Hernandez.
Newtown opened the scoring in the second when Bryan Vander Have singled, Dan Mason doubled, and Trevor Tyrrell drove both home with a single. In the top of the third, Newtown struck again when Ben Talbot singled, Cotton sacrificed him to second, and Petersen drove in Talbot on a groundout.
Danbury battled back with two in the third when Hernandez singled, Justin Solimine walked, and Zach Demko singled. On the throw home from Shea Talbot, Hernandez initially held up at third, but Solimine got caught off second for an out, allowing Hernandez to score. Danny Villalona followed with an RBI double scoring Demko to make the score 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, Newtown padded its lead. After James Schumacher and Cotton singled, Petersen tried a suicide squeeze, but didn’t get the bunt down because the pitch was wild, allowing Schumacher to score. Petersen then laced an RBI double to score Cotton. Shea Talbot drove in Petersen on a groundout to shortstop Villalona, who had to dive to make the play.
Dan Mason pitched a complete game seven-hitter with five strikeouts and three walks. Nine players had hits for Newtown, led by Luke Barrett who had two hits, including a double.
The night before, Danbury defeated Newtown 6-4 in a nine-inning marathon battle. Danbury’s Hernandez pitched five shutout innings and Danbury led 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth. Newtown rallied when James Doyle reached first on dropped third strike and Michael Cotton followed with a dunker into left field which was seemingly a single, but Doyle was forced at second base for the second out of the inning. Down to their last out, Todd Petersen walked and Luke Barrett was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Shea Talbot blasted a double to score Cotton and Petersen. Vander Have hit an infield ground ball which would have ended the game but the first baseman dropped the throw and Barrett and Talbot raced home to tie it. Doyle came on in relief of Vander Have, who had thrown four innings of stellar relief, and held Danbury scoreless in the seventh and eighth while Newtown threatened. Newtown got Jack Mulligan to third base in the seventh against Justin Solimine, but failed to get him in.
In the top of the ninth, three walks and a RBI singles by Luke Shilger and Hernandez forced the pinnacle game.
In the Wednesday winner’s bracket final, Mason pitched a complete game two-hitter to lead Newtown over New Milford 10-1. Barrett had two doubles, and Cotton, Shea Talbot, and Vander Have also had two hits for Newtown.
This will be the first appearance in the New England Regionals for the One-Eyed Cats who finished seventh in states as 9-year olds and third in states as 10-year olds.