BERLIN - Down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the third Tuesday afternoon, things looked bleak for the Berlin baseball team, at least from afar.
In the dugout Zipadelli Field, however, after Sheehan had ripped three RBI hits with two outs, the mood was one of confidence. After all, the Redcoats had been in this position before: just last week they earned a 7-6 comeback win against Middletown.
“We tried to stay positive,” senior catcher Ryan Hyde said. “We knew we had a good shot to win the game. We’ve been down before this season. It was an overall calm feeling, and we felt if we stayed focused and took things one pitch at a time, we would be OK.”
Berlin responded with a four-run third inning and held the Titans scoreless the rest of the way, before Paul D’Amore drove in Hyde with the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 7-6 win, the Redcoats’ third in a row.
“I was really happy to get the hit,” D’Amore said after his game-winning single. “But it felt better knowing I did it for my team.”
D’Amore played the role of hero on offense, but the unsung hero was Nick Accarpio, who relieved an ineffective Camden Murphy and held the once-surging Sheehan lineup to just two hits over four innings before Adam Bilinsky came on for the save in the seventh, stranding the tying run on second base.
“Nick did a great job keeping us in the game,” Berlin assistant coach Frank Naples said after filling in for head coach Leo Veleas, who was ejected in the team’s previous contest. “He came on in a tough spot and got us out of the inning and kept throwing. That was important.”
Accarpio came on in the top of the third after Murphy surrendered back-to-back doubles, his eighth and ninth hits allowed on the afternoon. Three of those hits came with two outs and runners in scoring position, two coming off the bat of Evan Wilkinson.
“They were doing a great job of getting ahead of hitters, but just couldn’t finish them off,” Naples said. “But the kids didn’t get down. They had [Murphy’s] back.”
In the bottom of the third, Hyde drew a one-out walk and scored on a deep double to the right center field wall by D’Amore to trim the deficit to four. After a single by Jeff Kuzoian put runners at the corners, Giancarlo Tufano drove in D’Amore on a fielder’s choice, and advanced to second on a balk by Sheehan starter Mickey Deming. With two down and a runner in scoring position, Berlin broke through with back-to-back RBI singles by Vince Dastoli and Nick Melville to pull within one.
After being burned by the two-out rally, the Redcoats finally used it to their own advantage.
“I knew we weren’t in trouble,” Accarpio said. “We always knew we could win that game, no matter what the score was.”
Berlin tied the game in the fifth thanks to Gianni Fanelli, who roped a double down the left field line after being robbed of a hit off a screaming line drive in each of his first two at-bats. Fanelli scored the tying run on a base hit up the middle by Hyde, as the Redcoats had turned a five-run deficit into a tie game in just two innings.
Berlin continued its charge in the sixth when Hyde drilled a double to the gap in left center, his third hit of the game, to set up D’Amore’s heroics in the following at-bat.
“It felt good off the bat,” Hyde said of his deep double. “I was up in the count and was just looking for a pitch in my spot. I got it, and it felt good to just be in a position to help the team.”
Accarpio surrendered a double in the seventh to Caden Cloutier with one out, and Berlin turned to Bilinski, who struck out a pair to end the game and give the Redcoats’ their third straight win, all of which have come by just one run.
“There was no quit,” Naples said. “They were ready to keep playing and they had an answer every inning.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org