Gaels edge Lions in extra innings, 7-6
The Foran High baseball team did exactly what it’s been doing all season long on May 19, battling Shelton High for 11 innings during a matchup of evolving SCC teams.
Unfortunately, the Lions also stayed true to another of its 2014 trademarks, failing to capitalize on a number of mistakes by the Gaels before dropping a 7-6 decision under the lights at a chilly SHS field in a game that took nearly three-and-a-half hours to complete.
Foran trailed 6-2 through five innings before tying the game 6-6 with a four-run explosion in the sixth off Shelton right-hander Mike Cowell.
The Lions were held in check the rest of the night, as Shelton reliever Justin Lynch allowed just one base-runner over the final five innings, facing just one batter over the minimum over that span.
Foran (4-14) spent the rest of the game holding on for dear life. Shelton had runners in scoring position in each of the last six innings, but the Lions wouldn’t budge.
The Gaels left nine men on base over the final six innings and 14 in the game against the pitching of junior Matt Alicki, senior Tyler Chacho and junior Adam Antonini.
The Lions even stopped a suicide-squeeze attempt with Chacho on the mound, getting a strikeout, tag-out double play to end the eighth inning.
Shelton (5-11) finally came through in the clutch, getting a leadoff single by senior captain Carl Rizzo to lead off the bottom of the 11th, then winning it on a one-out double by No. 9 batter Chris Kanios.
It was Foran’s fifth one-run loss of the season and second extra-innings setback.
“It was a typical game for us this year,” Foran head coach Garrett Walker said. “It’s tough to lose it on one hit like that after what we had to do to get back into the game and extend it like that.
“But I’m really proud of the boys. We played hard and we did what we had to do to be competitive, and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Walker got everything out of Alicki, and then some. The junior right-hander battled his way through 131 pitches, using a nice off-speed pitch to keep the Gaels totally off-balance. Alicki struck out seven and walked four.
Chacho pitched three scoreless innings, working his way out of a couple of tight jams, before Antonini closed things out over the final two frames.
Shelton hit Alicki hard over the first four innings, collecting six runs on 10 hits over that span. But Alicki kept battling, giving up just two hits over two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth.
“He got stronger as it went on,” Walker said. “That’s not the way he usually does it, but his best innings were 4-5-6. And Tyler Chacho did a great job coming in and keeping us in the game.”
Foran was led offensively by shortstop Reinaldo Jackson, who went 4-for-6, including a two-out, two-run double in the second to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Jackson also scored one run and made a couple of dazzling plays on defense. “When he’s on, he’s our best player,” Walker said of Jackson.
Sam Olsson had two hits and one RBI and catcher Nick Touzzola collected two hits and two runs scored.
Senior Chris June led off Foran’s four-run sixth with a pinch-hit single. Touzzola singled and Tyler Kasuba, who had a strong game in center field, followed with an RBI-single to right.
Jackson got it going again with a single to center and Olsson delivered a sacrifice fly. Chacho then tied the game with a long two-run double to the fence in left.
But Foran’s biggest plays came on defense. Shelton had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth when Shelton head coach Scott Gura called for a suicide squeeze on an 0-2 count on catcher Brett Scanlon.
“It was unconventional,” Gura said. “But he’s our best bunter, and I thought I might catch them off guard with the 0-2 count.”
It did, but Foran wasn’t fooled. Chacho struck out Scanlon, who couldn’t get the bat on an outside fastball, and Touzzola easily completed the unorthodox inning-ending double play by tagging Cowell charging down the line.
“That was one of the wackier plays I’ve seen,” Walker said. “I think coach Gura was trying to do something we weren’t prepared for. It’s just that type of year in baseball in Connecticut.”
Perhaps even bigger, Foran left fielder Josh Mixie threw Cowell out at the plate trying to score from second to end the fourth, allowing the Lions to take the game into extra innings.
“That was huge,” Walker said. “That’s in the middle innings when some kids don’t understand the gravity of the game. We don’t get into extra innings if we don’t get that play at the plate, and that’s something we’re working hard on in practice.”
Foran wraps up the season with games against Cheshire and Fairfield Prep.
Tyler Chacho’s walk-off double powered Foran High to a 5-4 victory over Shelton High at Ken Walker Field on May 13. The Lions scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull even and then won the SCC battle with the Gaels in their next at bat.
Mike Bevino singled in the tieing run in the sixth. Sam Olsson had three hits, including a double, and drove in a run. Anthony Raccio had two hits and two RBIs.