New Canaan leads Newtown in seesaw clash after four and a half innings
NEWTOWN -- In the winner's bracket finale of the Cal Ripken tournament, New Canaan used a five-run fifth inning to take an 11-10 lead over Newtown before the game was postponed due to darkness. Play will resume at Newtown's Glander Field at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The winner advances to Thursday's championship and will have two chances to beat whoever comes out of the loser's bracket to claim the regional tournament, while the loser will have to immediately play Exeter, NH for the right to get a shot at a rematch.
The big blow on Tuesday came courtesy of Dillon Abate, who launched a two-out grand slam over the right-center field fence field fence to tie the game at 10-10 before an RBI single by Matt Burger put New Canaan back on top.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Newtown's Ben Harrison ripped a two-run double down the left field line to snap a 6-6 deadlock and give Newtown an 8-6 lead. A two-run single by Dylan Champagne seemingly gave Newtown a bit of breathing room by extending its advantage to 10-6, the largest lead for either team.
As both teams continued to pile on the runs, the lack of visability became an issue, and the game was postponed after four and a half innings with New Canaan still clinging to an 11-10 lead. The clash between the newfound rivals was in far different fashion than last season's state tournament finale, when Newtown claimed a tense 2-1 win, but it was still as competitive as ever.
"We knew the game was taking a long time so there was a chance it could get called due to darkness. We seem to play incredible games with Newtown every single game. Nothing surprises me," New Canaan coach Chas Abate said. "When we get together, these two teams have a way of having incredible battles against each other. We're glad to be ahead by a run, but there's a lot of ballgame left and that team over there is not going to quit."
New Canaan's Robby Jones launched a pair of two-run bombs in the third and fourth innings that each cleared the centerfield fence by a considerable margin. Abate and Jones already have four RBI and Burger has three.
A two-out, two-run blast over the right field fence by Newtown pitcher Jason Hebner gave Newtown a 5-4 lead in the third.
"It's just a typical New Canaan-Newtown game. Every time we play, it's a one run game. They hit the heck out of the ball like they did tonight, and we've never had an easy game with them," Newtown coach Tom Harrison said. "We've been hitting the ball well the last three or four games, so the kids are confident at the plate."
Back-to-back jacks by Jones and Burger in the top of the third gave New Canaan its second lead of the day at 4-3.
New Canaan drew first blood in the top of the first when Matt Burger came through with an RBI single to plate Mike Pelli, who reached on a fielder's choice.
Newtown loaded the bases on three straight walks to begin the bottom of the second, prompting New Canaan coach Chas Abate to replace Burger with Dillon Abate. The younger Abate got a popup, but a wild pitch and a two-run double by Newtown's Adam Bergeron gave Newtown its first lead at 3-1.
NEW CANAAN 11, NEWTOWN 10
NEW CANAAN 103 25X--11 13 0
NEWTOWN 032 5XX--10 7 2
Records: New Canaan 2-0, Newtown 2-0.
Batteries: NC--Matt Burger, Dillon Abate, Mike Pelli and Robby Jones; N--Jason Hebner and Ben Harrison.
Doubles: NC--Abate 2; N--Adam Bergeron, Ben Harrison. Home Runs: NC--Jones 2, Burger; N--Hebner