MIDDLETOWN - The CIAC Class L baseball state final did not go Berlin's way Saturday night as top-seeded Daniel Hand defeated the Redcoats 3-0.
The season closes off Berlin at 21-4. Hand, winning its first state title in program history, finishes the 2021 campaign with a record of 21-1.
Action got going in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth with Hand striking first. A leadoff single from Anthony Depino gave them a base runner and Jack Pireaux followed up with a single to put two on.
A hit-by-pitch on Danny Weinstein loaded the bases for Eli Davies.
Berlin got a hard-hit chopper to second baseman Tyler Rice, leading to a throw home for the force out, cutting down a potential run scoring opportunity.
The Tigers broke through in the next at-bat, getting a loud fly out to right field to break the scoreless tie. A fly out from Gio Roman led to Pireaux scoring, making it 1-0.
Evan Mastrobattisto broke the game open in the following at-bat to give Hand a 3-run lead. A double into left-center field scored Weinstein and Davies, putting pressure on the Redcoats.
Hand threatened to extend the lead late, getting back-to-back singles from Pireaux and Weinstein before Davies bunted the two over into scoring position. Mastrobattisto flew out to left field to end the sixth inning, ending any further threat.
To start the seventh Berlin got a walk from Justin Piskorski, giving Kasey Oullette an opportunity to make noise with a runner on.
Berlin went down in three straight at-bats after the two walks, closing the game and the season.
The Redcoats had one hit in the contest, coming in the top of the fourth off the bat of Jaime Palmese.
Hand starter David Antonetti, who was masterfully dicing up Berlin all game. Berlin head coach Leo Veleas tipped his cap to Antonetti, but said the effort at the plate from his side can’t get it done in big games.
“I didn’t think Gerrit Cole was pitching for another couple of nights,” said Veleas. “I guess he showed up here tonight. I mean, one hit, it ain’t going to get it done. It’s not going to get it done.”
Berlin committed one error, which came in the run-scoring fourth inning for the Tigers. While the error contributed to the inning, Veleas went back to the need to put together hits on offense to make a difference.
“It’s pitching and defense, it’s as simple as that. But, you can pitch as good as you want, but if you don’t score any runs you ain’t going to win. It’s as simple as that. One hit, it’s not going to get it done,” Veleas said. “… We just couldn’t square it up. I don’t know if it was the excitement in the day or what, … we just couldn’t hit today.”
Daniel Hand coach Travis LaPointe gave credit where due to the program.
“I have great respect for their program, … year after year they produce an incredible baseball team and we knew they’d be fundamentally sound,” said LaPointe. “… Defense is the reason why we win and why we won all year long, and we played one of our best defensive games (Saturday). We knew we had to (play strong defensively) to match Berlin.”