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The top-seeded Newtown High School baseball team defeated visiting and eighth-seeded Stratford 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the South-West Conference tournament on May 23.
It was a neck and neck pitcher’s duel between Newtown’s Kyle Roche and Brendan Duffy. Through the first two innings, stellar pitching was provided by Roche, including his seven pitch 1-2-3 inning in the second.
After the back and forth offensive struggles to open the game, Stratford pulled ahead in the third inning, scoring on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. Newtown was able to get out of the inning without allowing another run, but was kept scoreless in the second half of the inning. Roche got out of a fourth-inning jam as Stratford put runners on first and second.
In the top of the sixth, Roche was able to keep it a one run ballgame, ending the inning with a Stratford runner on third.
Newtown entered the bottom of the sixth, still down 1-0 and looking to take the lead. Jack Miller’s single to begin the inning ignited the offense. Michael Cotton reached first on an error, putting runners on first and second for leadoff hitter Todd Petersen. He provided a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position. With Josh Taylor at the plate, Miller scored from third on a passed ball to tie the game. Michael Cotton stole home one pitch later, giving Newtown the 2-1 lead.
“I was trying to do a squeeze and catch them off guard,” Newtown Coach Ian Thoesen said.
Stratford did seem to be caught off guard, as the squeeze did not occur because of a passed ball that allowed Cotton to score without the ball being put into play off the bat. Taylor mustered a single to left for his second hit before the inning ended on a double play.
Roche headed back to the mound to close out the game. With ease, he got the first two batters out, but issued a two-out double to the third batter. Rather unfazed, Roche jammed the next batter into a ground ball out courtesy of a sliding Cotton at second base to end the game and send Newtown to the semifinals.
Newtown managed just three hits, and Roche limited Stratford to four hits, and had seven strikeouts.
“I always look to make adjustments. It’s baseball, and you can’t predict it. It was interesting, though; a hit didn’t score a run. But, a win’s a win,” Thoesen said.
The Nighthawks look to continue their winning ways in the semifinals against No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield on Thursday, May 24. The game is scheduled to take place at Bethel High, beginning at 7 pm. The winner advances to the Friday, May 25, championship game at either Bethel High or Penders Field in Stratford, beginning at 7 pm.