New Canaan baseball team beats North Haven to reach Class L championship
MIDDLETOWN -- JR Anderson continued New Canaan's recent run of lights-out starting pitching, hurling 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball Tuesday, propelling his Rams to a 5-1 victory over North Haven and into Saturday's Class L State Championship game against No. 2 Waterford.
Saturday's championship will be at noon, also at Palmer field in Middletown.
Anderson yielded four hits, four walks and struck out a pair to earn his second victory of the state tournament.
"I was struggling with a little finger blister, but I managed to just battle and throw strikes. I didn't have my best stuff today, but when you don't have your best stuff you've just got to throw strikes," said Anderson, who got one out in the seventh before David Giusti came in for the last two, notching the save. "I got a lot of help from my defense."
No. 16 North Haven had an opportunity to take an early lead on a single by cleanup hitter Matt Oestreicher in the top of the first, but New Canaan left fielder Alex LaPolice threw a strike to catcher Casey Ouellette to nail Chris Brockett at the plate, keeping the Indians off the scoreboard.
North Haven starting pitcher Zack Brown retired the first two New Canaan batters in the bottom of the first, but Andrew Casali followed up with a two-out single and a stolen base. Next up, Brian Moran reached on an infield single and the throw sailed over the first baseman's head, allowing Casali to trot home. A second North Haven error on a groundball hit by Erik Jager scored Moran for the 2-0 lead.
"When we play good defense obviously we're in the game," North Haven coach Robert DeMayo said. "We gave them six outs in the inning and they're an excellent ball team. They played super defense and made all the plays."
Ouellette and Matt Toth led off the top of the third with a single and a double, and Ouellette scored on Casali's RBI sacrifice fly to right for the 3-0 lead.
The Indians scored their only run in the top of the fourth when Mike Acampora knocked in Oestreicher with an RBI single to make it 3-1, but Anderson worked his way out of a second-and-third, one-out jam to limit the damage.
"We do total team. We talk about team, team, team," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "Sharp defense. It's preparation, it's practice, it's keeping it loose and taking the jitters away a little bit, which I think we did, and now we're there."
The No. 4-seeded Rams gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom of the fifth when Erik Jager ripped a two-run double to deep left after fouling off several tough pitches, boosting his team's lead to 5-1. Jager's shot scored Ouellette and Moran from second and first, respectively, after each had walked.
"You have to adjust to the curveball if he throws it, but you think fastball," Jager said. "He came inside with the fastball, and I got my hands around and hit it."
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NEW CANAAN 5, NORTH HAVEN 1
NORTH HAVEN 000 100 0--1 4 2
NEW CANAAN 201 020 X--5 7 0
Records: North Haven 15-9, New Canaan 20-4. Batteries: NH--Zack Brown (L), Mike Acampora, Chandler Andrewsen and Matt Oestreicher; NC--JR Anderson (W), David Giusti (S) and Casey Ouellette. Highlights: NH--Acampora went 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. NC--Erik Jager went 1-for-3 with a two-run double. Andy Casali went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run and a stolen base. Ouellette went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs.