Amity baseball advances to 5th straight Class LL title game

WATERBURY >> Sal Coppola and the Amity baseball coaching staff walked off the team bus and through the main entrance to Municipal Stadium prior to Wednesday’s CIAC Class LL semifinal game before noticing something peculiar.

They were all alone. The team was nowhere to be found.

“How does a whole baseball team disappear?” Coppola said.

The Spartans were still on the bus, taking a few extra minutes to talk with each other before eventually making their way onto the field. Coppola didn’t bother asking what the conversation was about. His teams, always loose, know what it takes to win.

On Wednesday, Benjamin Lodewick had six hits to lead Amity to a 5-2 victory over Danbury. The Spartans, the only team in state history with four successive state championships, go for a fifth straight against Staples on Saturday at noon at Palmer Field in Middletown. Staples defeated Ridgefield 7-3 in the first Class LL semifinal.

As it stands the Spartans (25-2) have won a record 24 straight state tournament games since losing to Southington in the quarterfinal round in 2012. And, with the past three Southern Connecticut Conference championships also in tow, Amity has won 28 successive postseason games.

Lodewick (8-0), a junior who began the season as the team’s fourth starter, had trouble getting ahead in the count during the early innings. Despite the many hitters’ counts, the Hatters (14-10) couldn’t take advantage. Danbury managed one hit and one walk through four innings.

“The first eight batters of the game, he was 1-0 or 2-0,” Coppola said. “We were staying he couldn’t throw a first-pitch strike. But he’s very difficult to hit. He throws four different pitches; his fastball has a lot of movement. What people don’t see in the crowd is the movement on his pitches. He’s scrappy and tough to hit against.”

Amity took a 2-0 lead with runs in the third and fourth, both pushed across without a ball leaving the infield.

Colin Beaulieu led off the third with a walk and stole second. Andrew Hague bunted the runner to third. Another bunt, this one by Ted Hague for a single, scored Beaulieu to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.

Max Scheps started the fourth with an infield single. Pinch runner Quentin Putter stole second. Three walks, the last to Andrew Hague with the bases loaded, forced in a run.

Danbury closed to within 2-1 in the fifth. Nick Gervasio led off with a triple to dead center field and scored on Brian McCarthy’s sacrifice fly.

Amity broke the game open with three runs in the fifth. Rohan Patel’s bases-loaded single scored two, and Scheps later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 5-1.

Danbury made things interesting in the seventh, loading the bases on three straight hits. Scheps, the Amity third baseman, had thrown a few bullpen pitches the previous inning and was ready to enter the game. Coppola stuck with Lodewick, who settled down to induce a double play, which scored a run, before striking out Andrew Luis for the game’s final out.

“We had to make the double play under a lot of pressure,” Coppola said. “I give the infield a lot of credit to get that turned over.”