Only a year ago, these young ballplayers were scattered among a trio of teams and playing with pitching machines rather than live pitching. Now, Newtown’s 9-year-old Wildcats, after a spring season together to get accustomed to pitching and facing hurlers, are District 5 champions. The Wildcats scratched and clawed past Southbury and Oxford, then beat Southbury a second time, to claim the Cal Ripken District title this past week and, with the triumph, are on their way to the state tournament. The district tourney unfolded on July 6, 7, and 10.
The Wildcats will participate in the eight-team state tournament in Danbury that begins Saturday, July 20, when they face West Hartford at 3 pm at Rogers Park.
In the regional tourney, the Newtown squad toppled Southbury and Oxford before edging Southbury in a rematch, in the title game. Results are as follows:
Newtown 19, Southbury 3: Newtown opened up the tournament with a four-inning mercy rule victory. The Wildcats scored 12 runs in the third inning to break the game open. David Braun and George Sandercox had two hits apiece and Hayden Miller was 2-for-3 with a triple, and Steven Cotton also tripled. Sean O’Sullivan’s bunt single was a key hit for Newtown in the big inning. Zander Kasbarian and Trevor Jacozzi combined on the mound to hold Southbury to three runs.
Newtown 15, Oxford 5: In game two, Newtown jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Oxford fought back to make it 7-5. Then, the Wildcats scored four in the fourth inning and four in the fifth to end the game by mercy rule after five innings. Jack Petersen went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and five runs batted in. Braun was 2-for-2 with a triple and three RBI. Karl Miller and Hayden Miller each went 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Karl Miller threw three innings in relief, only allowing one run, and made a diving catch in center field to end the game.
Newtown 5, Southbury 4: The Wildcats jumped on top when Petersen singled home Karl Miller in the first, and Newtown led 1-0 when heavy rain caused a 45-minute stoppage of play. The rain delay wouldn’t slow the Wildcats. Newtown tacked on another run in the second after Kasbarian (2-for-2) singled and scored, but Southbury scored four in the third to take a 4-2 lead. Cotton drove in Kasbarian with a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make the score 4-3. Ryan Heran led off the fifth with a single, Hayden Miller walked, and Karl Miller reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. After a pop out and a strikeout, Heran and Hayden Miller scored on an infield error for the tying and go-ahead runs. Winning pitcher Karl Miller pitched three shutout innings in relief for Newtown. Battling the threat of darkness, catcher Sandercox threw out a Southbury base runner trying to steal second in the top of the sixth for the last out of the game to clinch the title.
“They really swung the bats really well in the first two games, and they really fought through and won a close game,” Head Coach Dan Cotton said, alluding to the 5-4 nail-biter against Southbury.
Coach Cotton is excited about entering into the state tourney. “The next tournament will be competitive for us,” said Cotton, adding that his group will face some of the same teams it faced in the Al Leonard Tournament in Bethel, in which it finished fourth earlier this season.
Given the age of this squad, Dan Cotton isn’t getting too caught up in wins and losses, however. “We hope to have fun and do our best and see what happens,” he said.