New Canaan 11's fall just short in State Title heart-breaker
NEWTOWN -- The battle for the Cal Ripken Baseball 11U State Championship took two games and three days to decide because of a clutch win by New Canaan and a lack of cooperation by Mother Nature. It featured a pair of extra innings, 38 combined runs and a dramatic down-to-the-final-out, game-tying home run by New Canaan.
In the end, after all of the dust had settled, New Canaan fell a run short in its bid to knock off host Newtown at Glander Field on Saturday afternoon. Newtown won its third straight State Title with a wild 12-11 win in eight innings.
By reaching the championship round, both Newtown and New Canaan qualify for the New England Regional Tournament slated for this coming weekend.
The State Championship round began last Thursday with New Canaan needing to knock off Newtown twice to capture the crown in the double elimination tourney. Darkness suspended the matchup with New Canaan ahead 8-6 in the final inning. When play resumed on Friday, New Canaan forced a winner-take-all game by holding off its opponents for an 8-7 win. The teams played the pinnacle game and New Canaan, by virtue of its win, became the "home" team and batted last.
Game two began on Friday afternoon but was halted in the second inning due to rain and thunder rumbles with Newtown leading 7-4. When play resumed the next day, New Canaan made a strong bid to pull off the comeback, tying the game in its last at bat and threatening in extras before Newtown pulled through.
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Trailing 11-9 in the bottom of the sixth, and down to its last out, Matt Burger delivered a game-tying two-run home run to right field on an 0-1 pitch. The long ball scored Dillon Abate, who had walked to lead off the inning.
In the top of the eighth, New Canaan left fielder J.D. Sparks made an all-out diving catch to keep the game tied before Newtown's Connor Barrett delivered a go-ahead RBI single to score Ben Harrison from second.
New Canaan again made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth but couldn't cash in on a second and third, one-out scenario as Dieckman worked out of the jam.
"My guys battled right to the end. I mean they're never going to give up -- they're going to play any team in the whole state right until the end," New Canaan coach Chas Abate said.
Newtown certainly can attest to that. The eventual winners had built a 7-2 lead before New Canaan came roaring back with four runs in the second -- two on Friday and two more when play resumed the next day.
After Newtown established a 10-6 lead, New Canaan climbed back to within a run. Burger hit his first home run of the day, and Matt Evans went back-to-back with Burger, launching a long-ball of his own to help get New Canaan back into the game. Burger drove in five runs to lead New Canaan's offensive attack.
Newtown led the whole way. After Lucas O'Brien hit a two-run homer in the top of the first to make it 2-0, New Canaan got the runs right back as Robby Jones cranked a two-run shot of his own. Newtown scored five in the top of the second before New Canaan began its comeback effort behind RBI singles by Sparks and Jones.
"Newtown has a phenomenal team and we're glad that we hung with them, and I think we're going to meet them again in regionals. It should be a fun time," Abate said.