Strong pitching, crisp fielding and timely hitting added up to an 8-0 Milford Babe Ruth win over Stamford in the first round of the 13U state tournament at High Meadow Field in Newtown on Saturday.
Milford will play Newtown, a 9-1 first-round winner over Danbury, in the second round at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The double-elimination tournament continues either Monday (with a loss) or Tuesday (with a win).
In the tourney opener, Milford jumped out to a big lead with a five spot in the top of the second inning.
That was more than enough for starting pitcher Mike Cosmas and reliever Dean Ross, who combined to five-hit Stamford.
The big hit in the game-changing inning was a two-run double off the bat of Owen Bell.
Jack D’Avignon and Matt Piechota had run-producing singles, and a wild pitch led to the other run in the frame.
In the second, Cosmas and Kian McEnerney both singled and scored, and Riley Jordan walked and scored.
Joseph Gaetano doubled and scored on a Cosmas single in the third.
Gaetano ripped a two-run triple in the fifth, following a single by Piechota and walk to Ross.
“The first game’s key in a double-elimination tournament. This was a big win for us,” Milford head coach John Wezenski said. “Our strength is our offense, that’s for sure. We’re pretty consistent throughout the order.”
Building an early lead gives any team an extra boost of confidence.
Wezenski, however, said that gaining the early edge is particularly important for his squad, comprising players from various teams who have only played together for a few weeks.
It all started with the work of Cosmas, who retired Stamford in order in each of the first two innings, and Ross, who struck out two batters.
“They were around the plate, they pitched to contact and we had really good defense,” Wezenski said.
Despite Stamford putting the ball into play, it was held off the scoreboard thanks, in part, to a pair of double plays turned by Milford.
Milford team members include Anthony Brassell, Jason Cruz, Cody Dineson, Deven LaRoche, John Neider and Tyler Shea.
Scott Monforte, Jerry Shea and Chris McEnerney assist Wezenski.