Toth blasts game-winning solo home run as New Canaan baseball team advances to state quarterfinals
NEW CANAAN -- In a game that was perhaps even closer than the final may suggest, the New Canaan baseball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class L state tournament on the strength of Matt Toth's game-winning solo home run and JR Anderson's complete-game effort in a 4-1 victory against visiting Bethel at Mead Park on Thursday.
Anderson struck out four while allowing just four hits and a walk. No. 13 Bethel's lone run came on a solo shot by Carson Duffy that tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third, but Anderson's final strikeout ended the game and booked the fourth-seeded Rams for a Saturday matchup with No. 12 Wethersfield in the quarterfinals at Mead Park.
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"Every time I take the mound I try to have that mindset (of going the distance). I know that if something goes wrong or something happens I've got great guys behind me to pick me up, including pitchers behind me," Anderson said. "It feels good to go all seven, and it's what I try for every time I go out there."
The Rams took an early 1-0 lead when Nick Cascione led off the bottom of the second with a triple to left-center and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Alex LaPolice. New Canaan was in front for good after Toth led off the bottom of the third with a solo shot over the left field fence.
"It was a fastball right down the middle basically," Toth said. "I was surprised he threw it because there were two strikes, and I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere."
Bethel starting pitcher Mike Crimmi also went the distance, tossing six inning of four-run ball while giving up seven hits, five walks, hitting a batter and striking out seven.
With the Wildcats trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth, Crimmi stranded runners on second and third by recording a pop out and consecutive strikeouts.
"Frustrating. I thought we were there and I thought we did a lot of things to give us an opportunity to win this game," Bethel coach Ray Turek said. "I thought we hit the ball pretty well. If you look at our at bats in that last inning, we hit three balls pretty well. They're a good team and they're going to be a tough out."
Still nursing a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, pinch hitter CJ Altman drew a leadoff walk before being forced out at second on a bunt attempt by LaPolice. Three straight singles by Grady Amrhein, Casey Oullette and Toth resulted in a 3-1 lead, and Casali followed up with an RBI sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
"We left too many runners on third base with less than two outs, so that's unacceptable," said New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman, who added that Casali will be the starting pitcher on Saturday. "What we're good with right now is picking each other up. Nobody gets offended if one guy does it and one guy doesn't. We don't care about batting averages here; we worry about wins."
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New Canaan 4, Bethel 1
BETHEL 001 000 0--1 4 0
NEW CANAAN 011 002 X--4 7 2
Records: Bethel 13-9; New Canaan 18-4. Batteries: B--Mike Crimmi (L) and Matt Rogalski; NC--JR Anderson (W) and Casey Ouellette. Highlights: B--Carson Duffy hit a solo home run. Mike Forese went 2-for-3. Cody Johnson went 1-for-2 with a walk. NC--Matt Toth went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and stolen base. Andy Casali went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a stolen base. Nick Cascione went 1-for-3 with a triple.