BERLIN - The Berlin baseball team found itself in an all-too familiar place on Tuesday afternoon, caught in the grips of another tight game that saw Sheehan bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning, while the tying run stood at second base.
While tension seemed to be mounting, such a scenario is exactly where the Redcoats have found success lately, and while it may add some extra to the coaching staff, the poised Berlin squad seems to relish the chance to finish off a tight contest.
“We have nine or 10 seniors, so we know how to close ballgames,” senior Ryan Hyde said. “It’s been showing lately.”
It has shown in the form of three straight wins for the Redcoats, all three of which have come by one run, including the 7-6 win over Sheehan, a game in which Berlin trailed 6-1.
That streak will be put to the test with two games in the next two days, and for the coaches, they’d prefer to start seeing some wins that don’t cause a spike in blood pressure.
“It helps having a lot of seniors in those situations, but it’s a tough way to play,” assistant coach Frank Naples said. “It’s hard to keep winning games like that.”
Don’t tell that to the Redcoats players, who have now earned thrilling comeback wins twice in the past week, including a 7-6 victory over Middletown in which the team trailed heading into the seventh inning. Berlin is an experienced group that doesn’t shy away from high-leverage situations, which is huge for a team that finds itself in so many situations where the game is on the line.
“It just shows how much grit we have as a team,” Hyde said. “It shows we have a lot of experience.”
That experience helped the Redcoats keep calm on Wednesday, when they trailed by five after three innings. For a group that is no stranger to the comeback, a five-run deficit wasn’t really that insurmountable.
“I think we’ve proven that we’re clutch,” Nick Accarpio said after earning the win on Tuesday. “At the end of the game we always know we can win, no matter what the score was.”
Accarpio and his teammates showed further proof of their clutch gene with a four-run third inning and a game-winning hit in the bottom of the sixth by Paul D’Amore, who embraced the role of the hero for Berlin, but like his coaches, would prefer if a do-or-die situation wasn’t needed in the later innings.
“We’re just a finishing team,” D’Amore said. “We sometimes start out slow, which we need to fix, but we seem to come on stronger towards the end.”
The Redcoats walked away from their win against Sheehan with a 7-1 record, with five of those wins coming by three runs or less. Four have been decided by just one run. It’s not an ideal way to accumulate victories, but with each passing close win, Berlin is building confidence that can pay off when the season, and not just the game, is on the line - in the state tournament.
“Each win builds on itself,” Hyde said. “In the late innings when it’s close, we feel calm and collected and feel we can get it done.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com