GUILFORD - Newington Little League came to play.
In its first game of the final four in the Connecticut Little League State Championship, Newington put on a show in all facets of the game, resulting in a 12-0, five-inning victory over Ellington Friday night.
Newington’s Shaun Callahan set the tone early in the first, lacing a double to right-center field with one out. His hit sparked a two-run innings and the boys from Newington were just getting started in a performance that put the whole tournament on notice.
“The kids were fired up from the beginning,” Newington manager Ron Fairwood said. “We talked all week since we won the sectional about what it would mean to play in the state championship here. My hope was that our team would bring their A-game and they did today.”
Gabby Tirado and Andrew Bugnacki each had a home run in the game for Newington. Bugnacki later added a single on his night. Tirado, meanwhile, finished with a 3-for-4 performance, adding a double and a single.
But Newington received more than just a strong night at the plate. It also got plenty of quality pitching from starter Alex Bugnacki and relievers J.T. Galinoto and Alex Cappellucci. Bugnacki was the winning pitcher.
Bugnacki struck out the side in the first inning after walking the first two batters. His velocity was too much for the Ellington batters as they were late on his fastballs.
Galinoto relieved Bugnacki in the second inning and struck out five batters in 2 1/3 innings pitched. Cappellucci closed out the game and had two strikeouts.
Ellington’s only hit in the contest was a single from Aidan Ladr in the fifth inning. Ryan Delaney was charged with the loss.
With the victory, Newington will face Fairfield in the next round today. Fairfield won its game against Wallingford 8-6. The winner of Newington/Fairfield will advance to the championship game on Monday. The winner of the championship advances to the New England Regional held in Bristol.
“Fairfield is a very good hitting team. So is Wallingford,” Andrew Bugnacki said. “They both have very good pitching and I’m looking forward to the game [today].”
Newington has never been represented in the New England regionals. But Fairwood, who has been with Newington Little League for 39 years, his chances this time around to bring a team to Bristol.
“It’s indescribable,” Tirado said. “If we can pull this off, it would be amazing to go to the regionals in Bristol. That would be a dream come true for me since that has been a dream for me since I was eight or nine.”
Daniel Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan