The 13U Babe Ruth state championship game saw both New Milford and Milford have chances with the bases loaded. In the end it was Milford, in a wild and bizarre fashion, that capitalized on the biggest opportunity of all.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the sixth, Milford scored three times en route to a wild 7-5 victory over the New Milford Regulators at Newtown’s High Meadow Field on Friday night.
After Cody Dineson drove in the tying run and reached on an error, reloading the bases, a strikeout/wild pitch scored the go-ahead run.
Heads up baserunning on the subsequent throw from home to first base allowed a second run to score on the play.
That was the difference, and Milford is headed to the New England Regional Tournament that begins July 20 in Westfield (Mass.).
“That’s insane — not how I would have drawn it up,” said Milford head coach John Wezenski, who took a celebratory bucket of ice water over the head courtesy of his players partway through postgame interviews. “We played much better defense tonight and we didn’t strike out as much. We put the ball into play.”
The day before, Milford fell 9-8 in nine innings of an even more wild championship round one with New Milford, which had to defeat previously unbeaten Milford twice to win the title.
The Regulators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame and answered a Milford run in the bottom half of the inning, produced by Dineson’s leadoff walk, stolen base and an error, for a 3-1 advantage through two innings of play.
Milford loaded the bases on a walk, error and infield hit in the third. A bases-loaded walk by starting pitcher Mike Cosmas forced in a run, making the score 3-2. New Milford, behind a double play, limited the damage and retained the lead.
In the fourth, Milford’s Anthony Brassell ripped a two-out, two-run double to left for Milford’s first lead of the game at 4-3. A walk to Riley Jordan, one out error and single by Dineson set the table in the inning.
The see-saw game, and championship round for that matter, continued as New Milford scored twice in the top of the sixth for a 5-4 lead.
With the bases loaded and one out, a double play turned by third baseman Brassell with a step on third and throw to first, kept it a one-run game.
New Milford loaded the bases four times. Wezenski noted that his team made enough plays in the field to get the job done.
After a two-out single extended the game in the top of the seventh, a line drive went into the glove of Brassell at third and the celebration began.
“It was a really fun, competitive game, back and forth,” Dineson said.
“It’s such a great feeling. We definitely battled to get here. We did our best,” Milford center fielder Matt Piechota added. “I feel like if we are able to swing the bats and play good defense like we have, we’ll be able to get to Arkansas.”
The New England champ heads to Arkansas for the World Series.
“I don’t know much about those teams,” Wezenski said of the New England tourney competition. “What I do know is we have a week to get ready and give it a whirl.”