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The One Eyed Cats came out of the loser’s bracket to avenge an earlier tournament loss to Stamford and topped their familiar foes twice to capture the Babe Ruth U15 state championship, at Fairfield Hills, on July 15.
The Cats blanked previously unbeaten-in-the-tourney Stamford 5-0 to force a decisive game the same evening, then broke a sixth-inning tie to win 4-1.
This is the team’s third consecutive state championship, meaning the Cats will represent Connecticut in the New England Regional Tournament, in Rochester, N.H., beginning on July 21.
With the game even 1-1 and the bases loaded in the sixth inning of the winner-take-all contest, Trevor Tyrrell delivered a clutch single to left to drive in two runs, and the third scored on an errant throw.
Pitcher Joe Pagett tossed a complete game with five strikeouts for the win.
The Cats stole a run in the bottom of the third inning to break the scoreless deadlock. With runners on the corners, they executed a double steal with James Schumacher breaking for home when the Stamford catcher tried to nab Pagett swiping second base.
In the top of the fourth, Schumacher, the catcher, nailed a would-be base stealer at third.
Stamford evened the game in the fifth with a steal of third when the throw went into the outfield, allowing the run to come across.
There was more excitement on the base paths in the sixth when Stamford ran into two outs at home. With runners at first and third, Stamford tried to score the go-ahead run with a double steal of its own, but Schumacher resisted throwing to second and got the runner off third in a pickle. A throw to third, followed by a return throw home, and subsequent tag play at the plate, ended the rundown.
Also in the sixth, with runners at second and third, Schumacher blocked two pitches in the dirt, then tagged a runner on an attempted steal of home, for the final out of the wild half inning.
That set the stage for the Cats to score their three runs. The table was set when Shea Talbot and Michael Cotton were hit by pitches and Dan Mason blooped a single to left to load the bases.
The Cats won the first game behind the combined pitching of starter Talbot, who went five frames, and Mason, with the last two innings of work.
Schumacher’s two-run double made it 2-0 in the second inning. Pagett swiped home on the team’s first successful double steal of the double header, making it 3-0 in the third. The Cats scored again in the third and tacked on a run in the fifth, on Mason’s sacrifice fly.
The Newtown team started the tourney with a 12-0 win over Cheshire as Talbot tossed a five-inning, mercy-rule no-hitter with ten strikeouts. Schumacher went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in, and Tyrrell drove in two runs and scored a run.
The Cats then toppled Amity of Woodbridge 12-1, also in a five-inning game, behind Pagett’s three-hitter with five strikeouts. Todd Petersen, Gavin Connors, Bryan Vander Have, Mark Leonardi, and Schumacher all delivered a pair of hits, and Petersen, Connors, and Leonardi each drove in two runs.
Newtown’s squad dropped into the loser’s bracket in a 3-1 loss to Stamford in the winner’s bracket final. Mason went five innings, and Jack Mulligan tossed a pair of frames in the setback. Leonardi’s single drove in Connors with Newtown’s only run.
The Cats then took on New Milford which, after losing in its first game of the tourney, won three backs-against-the-wall loser’s bracket games. The Cats prevailed 4-1 as Mulligan scattered four hits in six sharp innings on the mound. Pagett closed out the victory. Cotton went 2-for-3 and knocked in a couple of runs, Tyrrell had two hits and a run scored, and Leonardi doubled, walked, and scored. Patrick Hurley also contributed in the team’s tournament run.
Read more about the tourney in the July 21 print edition of The Bee.