Class LL baseball: Amity earns return trip to Class LL semifinals

SOUTH WINDSOR — Pitching in a big game against a big-time opponent is nothing new for Amity’s Ben Lodewick.

The senior was one of the best arms on the Spartans team that reached the Class LL finals last season, so pitching in the state quarterfinals doesn’t phase him.

“I just went out there and do what I do,” Lodewick said. “Throw strikes and let my defense do what they do.”

Behind a great start by Lodewick and some excellent base running, the Spartans advanced to their sixth straight Class LL semifinals appearance with a 7-1 win over South Windsor on Saturday.

“It’s a new team, we’re proud of them. We have a lot of new guys,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said. ”A lot of them don’t have playoff experience. They have gotten better as the year has gone on.”

No. 7 Amity will play No. 3 Ridgefield in the semifinals on Tuesday with a site and time to be determined.

Lodewick, who has been the ace for the Spartans all season, pitched like one.

The right-hander mixed in four different pitches, and while he struck out just three, he induced nine ground-ball outs.

“He’s deceptive,” Amity coach Sam Coppola said.. “You might look at him and be like ‘What does this kid have? We should be killing him.’ But everyone says that and then the outcome is not usually good for them. That’s Ben for you.

“When a pitcher throws four different pitches,” he added. “It’s not fun to hit against.”

For the first four innings, Lodewick was matched every inning by South Windsor senior Jason Ray.

“He pitched exceptionally well,” South Windsor coach Mike McDermott said.

Ray held the strong-hitting Amity team at bay for the first four innings before the wheels fell off for the Bobcats.

Amity’s Seb Formica led off the fifth inning, reaching after a passed ball on a strikeout. The junior then stole second and reached third on a passed ball.

Seb Holt advanced to second on a walk and a stolen base, when Jon McNelis squared around to bunt. The bunt went right back to Ray who fired home, but it wasn’t in time as Formica beat the tag.

A failed pickoff attempt at first allowed Holt to score and allowed McNeils to reach third.

“Yeah that’s the first time we broke down all season,” McDermott said.

McNeils then scored on a dropped third strikeout throw to first.

“It was weird,” Coppola said. “They were aggressive on the base paths. It wasn’t the way we would like to do it when we are crushing the ball all over the place. In this case the guys were aggressive when they needed to be.”

The three runs were enough for Lodewick who went right back to work for the Spartans.

“Can’t break down against a good opponent,” McDermott said. “Especially in tournament play.”

Lodewick held the Bobcats scoreless over the next two innings, while the Spartans added four more runs, highlighted by an RBI single by Jack Nolan.

“We’re always working hard,” Amity’s John Lumpinski said. “We’re scrappy as hell.”