SOUTHINGTON - The Southington American Legion baseball team came up just short of its second straight state championship this past weekend, but the group’s second-place finish put it in position to accomplish an even greater goal.
Southington will join state champion Stamford in the Northeast Regional Tournament in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts beginning on Wednesday, where it will look to advance to the Legion World Series in North Carolina.
Fresh off of its state title last summer, Southington lost its opening game of the regional tournament to Essex, Vermont before rattling off two straight wins to pull to within two wins of the tournament championship, but were eventually handled by Braintree, Massachusetts in a 10-3 loss. Braintree went on to win the tournament and advance to the World Series.
Southington’s tournament slate begins on Wednesday morning, when the team opens up against Battleboro, Vermont at 11:30 a.m. at Fitton Field. Should Southington win that game, the team would play on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of Shrewsbury, Massachussets (which joins Southington and Cumberland, Rhode Island as returning teams from last year’s tournament) and Hampden, Maine. If Southington loses to Battleboro, it would play for its tournament life at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday against the loser of Shrewsbury and Hampden. The tournament itself will run through Sunday afternoon.
Southington will have to find more offense if it wants to make a deep tournament run, as head coach Marc Verderame’s lineup managed just one run in their two losses to Stamford in the state championship series.
Southington’s pitching, however, should keep the team in games, like it did this past weekend, which were close losses of 2-1 and 1-0. Nicholas Borkowski tossed six innings and allowed just four hits in the series opener, but he tired late as Stamford scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to spoil Southington’s 1-0 lead. Facing elimination, Southington got a typical gutsy outing from Ryan Henderson, who tossed seven innings and allowed just one run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Tim Wainwright, which was all Stamford needed.
Like many on Southington’s roster, Henderson experienced the regional tournament last season, and didn’t allow an earned run throughout the tournament. Verderame will be looking for more quality pitching performances against the top competition in New England, while hoping the offense does just enough to keep their season, and a chance at a World Series appearance, alive.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org