NEW BRITAIN - It was certainly not the way the Southington Travel Knights had hoped to open up its Nutmeg Games 12U baseball tournament.
The Knights failed to record a single hit and fell to the Catalyst Bombers (Rocky Hill) in a 10-0 shutout, ultimately succumbing to the Bombers due to a mercy ruling in the fifth inning Monday at Martha Hart Park.
The no hit shutout victory was earned by the efforts of Rocky Hill’s Jake Tonnati, and Raul Majica.
Tonnati pitched 3 2/3 innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, walked two batters and hit one batter. Tonnati generated his high strikeout rate by overwhelming batters with both velocity and an offspeed slider. He was pulled at 65 pitches to conserve his arm and maintain his eligibility to pitch later in the tournament.
Majica took over for Tonnati in the fourth and pitched the rest of the game. He struck out two in 1 1/3 innings, while walking two batters.
“They pounded the strike zone, they were throwing gas,” Rocky Hill coach Garret Plona said of his pitchers.
Despite not having any offensive success, the Knights had a few situations where runners were left on base or in scoring position.
The third inning was Southington’s best opportunity to score. With one out, Bryce Viosik was hit by pitch, took second on a passed ball and then stole third. The Travel Knights catcher, Sawyer Gaurel, was then walked. With runners on first and third base, Viosik tried to steal home on a throwback to the pitcher.
Acting quickly, Tonnati received the ball and fired it back home to catch Viosik in time. A strikeout then concluded the inning.
Southington also had a chance in the fifth inning when a series of walks put Gabe Hiuksou in scoring position and Derek Cliuilli on first. But the Travel Knights were unable to produce momentum and left the runners stranded.
The Catalyst Bombers’ big inning came during the fifth when they were finally able to get to Southington’s Evan Wilcox. The Travel Knights pitcher had kept it close, not allowing more than a single earned run up until the fifth inning. The Bombers batted through the order and plated every batter that went up to hit except Tonnati.
Despite the team’s performance, Southington coach Lucas Dibenedetto was impressed with his team’s ability to keep fighting.
“We battled. We are a very young team.” Dibenedetto said. “[We] played good defense, we had one bad inning. That happens, that’s baseball. [I’m] very proud of the effort the kids gave.”
Southington’s next game is today at 5:30 p.m. at AW Stanley Park. They will play the CT Noises out of Moodus.