ROCKY HILL - The Newington Little League all-stars will suit up Saturday for the state Section 3 championship game with their season on the line.
It’s familiar territory for the program, as Newington faced the same situation last season, when it topped Waterford 10-2 to win the section.
“I tell you, it really feels great,” Newington head coach Tom Tolisano said. “We have had so much support from this town. Newington is a baseball town. Our kids want it. They want to be there. For this town and for themselves, they want it.”
The offense has been the driving force for Newington during tournament play. In 12 games, it has scored a total of 117 runs, or 9.75 runs per game. The team has scored 10 or more runs in six of the games.
“We have good hitters,” Tolisano said. “We are very patient at the plate. We never swing at bad pitches. That comes with practice. And when we get our pitches, we hit the ball hard.”
The offense has only picked up in the first two games of sectional play. In the opening game against Mystic, Newington relied upon the bat of Gaby Tirado, who had three hits and five RBI, including a walk-off grand slam in the sixth inning for a 7-5 victory.
In the second game, the entire lineup helped lead Newington to a 10-2 win over Madison. There were RBI from five different players, including three each from Nico Tolisano and Gavin Gray. Of the 10 batters for Newington, eight of them reached base at least once.
“We are getting a lot of help up and down the lineup,” Tolisano said. “What I always talked about, [is] if someone doesn’t get a hit, someone else pick that kid up.”
Newington will face the winner of Friday night’s game between Madison and Mystic in the championship contest on Saturday.
For Tolisano, it doesn’t matter who the team plays. He knows it will be a tough game, regardless.
“We are going against these two teams - they’re both very good,” Tolisano said. “They’re good hitting teams and they have good pitching. So we will be in for a battle either way. And just because we beat them both once, we can’t take them lightly.”
Regardless of who Newington plays, it will be against a team that was undefeated before sectional play. Between the comeback win over Mystic and its commanding win over Madison, Newington has not blinked an eye in the face of its toughest competition of the season.
“I keep on telling my kids we’re really good,” Tolisano said. “It hasn’t really sunk in to them yet. We don’t stop. Our kids never quit.”
Tolisano is not sure who will start on the mound yet, but his batting order will look similar to what it has been in the first two games. If Newington does win Saturday, it will be looking to win its first state championship.
For Tolisano, playing in Saturday’s game, with this team, is the only situation he wants to be in.
“This year has been so fun,” Tolisano said. “Our kids have had a blast and so have the coaches. This has been a great ride and I don’t want it to end.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at troaix@centralct- communications.com