NEWINGTON -- Tenth-seeded Newington baseball couldnâ€™t complete the comeback in its 12-10 loss to No. 18 McMahon during the quarterfinal round of the Class LL baseball state tournament Saturday.
Trailing 8-5 after the third inning, the Norâ€™easters stormed back to tie it 9-9 an inning later, but a run in the sixth and another in the seventh from the Senators wound up being the difference in the quarterfinal battle.
Newingtonâ€™s Connor Daly had a chance to knot the game back up in the final frame with two base runners on and two outs, but struck out to end the Norâ€™easters rally bid, as well as their season, on their home field.
â€śWe had two guys on base, with one of our best hitters up in Connor Daly, who I 100 percent thought was going to win the game for us,â€ť Newington coach Ben Alaimo said. â€śI was surprised that we didnâ€™t win. Even with two outs and two strikes, I literally felt like he was going to win the game for us until it was over.
â€ś[McMahon] is obviously better than their seed gives them credit for,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śI think we were a very good 10-seed. Three upsets for McMahon and their first-year coach, doing a tremendous job with a great group. Give them all the credit in the world.â€ť
Newington starter Zach Nakonechny had an uncharacteristic performance, allowing four runs and seven walks in two innings of work. The Norâ€™easters struggled as a whole throwing strikes as Nakonechny, Gavin Gray and Chase Prestia combined for 12 walks and three hit-by-pitches throughout the game.
â€śHard to believe we only lost by two,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śShows you the kind of fight we had, what kind of competitive fire we came with today. Iâ€™m proud of the team.
â€śOur offense kept fighting and fighting and clawing,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śOur pitching was gutsy, did everything they could. Didnâ€™t really have control of the strike zone today and that cost us a lot, but our guys left everything they had out there.â€ť
The visitors scored four runs in the third inning, largely due to Newington walking batters, for its biggest surge of the contest. The Norâ€™easters managed to score four runs of its own the very next inning, with the Senators also having issues finding the strike zone. Had the hosts started stronger, Newington may have avoided playing catch-up baseball.
â€śI think had the game started a lot differently than it wouldâ€™ve ended a lot differently,â€ť Prestia said. â€śJust wish we could have those first few innings back where we gave up all of those runs.â€ť
Prestia came on in relief during the third inning and despite giving up six runs, gave Newington a fighting chance in a tough situation.
â€śAfter the first two innings I kind of saw a trend of what was working well,â€ť Prestia said. â€śI donâ€™t throw too hard, but I saw a trend, saw what worked and tried to stick with it as best as I could the whole game.â€ť
Prestia went the rest of the way, taking the loss for Newington.
Alex Cappellucci and Shaun Callahan each cracked two hits to lead the Norâ€™easters while Daly, Prestia, Josiah Ross and Austyn Howe each finished with singles.
Newingtonâ€™s offense came to play, however a few too many miscues on the defensive side gave McMahon extra at-bats all throughout the game.
â€śThe truth is weâ€™re a young team,â€ť Alaimo said. â€śWeâ€™re made up of mostly juniors and sophomores and I got a feeling those guys are going to use this as fuel to fire them up for next year. I expect a great offseason, and I expect to be right back here next year with this group.â€ť
Save for Nakonechny, Brandon Baglan, Andrew Allegrini and Joey Petronio, the Norâ€™easters return the rest of the roster for the 2022 season.
â€śJust use this as fuel to come back next year and go farther than we did this year,â€ť Prestia said.
Newington finished the 2021 season with a 17-6 record.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.