BERLIN - The Southington Travel Knights edged the Stratford Titans 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon in the Nutmeg State Games 13 and under baseball tournament, making good use of smart base running, key hits and locked-in pitching.
Aiden Buck threw a complete game for Southington, striking out five, walking none and only allowing one earned run over seven innings.
Buck and catcher Jacob DeGumbia know each other well through school and other teams. DeGumbia is a veteran catching Buck, and knows what to expect from him.
“Aiden’s like a consistent pitcher, he pitches the same every time,” DeGumbia said. “Maybe here or there he has a rough inning or two, but every time he is great for the team and its always a close game.”
Travel Knights head coach Nick Massarelli was particularly impressed with how Buck controlled the batters he faced.
“He threw a great game. He threw a lot of strikes. Especially strike one, he got ahead of most of the hitters,” Massarelli said. “He pitched to contact. The second time through the order he really worked a good breaking ball. [He] mixed it up the second time through and he kept them off balance the whole game.”
Buck worked out an approach which stifled Stratford’s offense.
“My fastball, I could hit locations with it, and curveball was good for offspeed, especially for their three, four and five hitters,” Buck said. “[They] were definitely getting good contact on the ball, so I wanted to make sure they were thinking about a curveball as well as me throwing a fastball in a certain location.”
Buck was the only player available to pitch for Southington. Most of the team’s pitchers had pitched in a different tournament that had taken place over the weekend, Massarelli said.
Southingtons’ first run of the game was driven in by center fielder Christian Watson in the third inning. Earlier in the inning, right fielder Chase Mendella had been walked and proceeded to steal second. Noah Richert was also walked.
With Watson at the plate and runners leading off first and second, he connected on a ball which hopped toward Stratford third baseman Casey Rossomando, who fielded the ball well but sailed it over first baseman Hayden Robert’s head, allowing Watson to reach base, Mendella to score from second and Richert to get to third.
Watson ended the night going 2-for-3, recording two singles and an RBI.
Before Stratford had a chance to score, Southington added to its lead in the fourth inning.
Left fielder Drew Nafis led off the inning by reaching first on an error. With Nafis on first, Dean Robinson hit a single which moved Nafis to third. Robinson then stole second base uncontested. A pair of wild pitches allowed the two Knights to score.
Robinson and DeGumbia were the only other players for Southington to record hits during the game. Richert managed to draw walks in all three of his plate appearances.
The Travel Knights’ next game is today at 5 p.m. at ClemLemire- Legends Field. They will play against a team from Manchester, the CT Blue Jays.