Milford rallies back to win Connecticut American Legion state title
Ed Michaud was a member of the team the last time Milford Post 196 reached the American Legion state tournament baseball final back in 2009.
Coming out of the losers' bracket, Milford needed to defeat Berlin twice to win the title. Post 196 won the first game, but lost the second, denying it a chance at its first-ever state crown.
Three years later almost to the day, Milford (4-0 in the Round of 16) was the last team standing in the winners' bracket heading into Friday night's title game against RCP (Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Portland). Post 196 needed to win just once, while RCP had to notch a pair of victories.
Michaud made sure there was no chance of an if-game this time around, as a ball off of his bat propelled Milford to wild 6-5 walk-off triumph over RCP, as Post 196 claimed its first-ever Legion state title.
"All we wanted was to win tonight and have some time to rest," Michaud said.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Michaud's sharply hit grounder rolled under the glove of RCP third baseman Jeff Osak. The ball trickled into the left-field corner, allowing Nick Pinto — who drew a lead-off walk — to score the game-winning run from second base.
It also capped a four-run Milford rally that saw the locals tie the game after trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth inning.
Michaud, along with teammates Christian Baglini, Sean Cameron, Joe Zanghi (2-for-4 in the final) and Matt Ferraiolo were named to the all-tournament team.
Baglini, who won the game on the mound in relief of Ferraiolo, was named the tournament's most valuable player.
The right-hander, who improved to 3-0 overall, also added a double, a single, a sacrifice bunt and a walk at the plate.
"I really felt great this tournament about hitting," said Baglini, who hammered a ground-rule double that nearly left the park. "I don't know if I've ever felt this great with the bat."
He retired RCP in order in the top of the ninth, setting up the walk-off heroics.
Ferraiolo gave a lionhearted effort for Post 196 (27-6) over gritty eight innings.
The right-hander, who threw 50 pitches in relief to nail down a save against Avon on Tuesday, registered 166 against RCP — allowing five runs on on nine hits, striking out eight and walking four.
RCP struck for three runs in the top of the first on two-run double by Pat Sirois and an RBI groundout by John McMahon.
In the top of the fourth, Post 105 tacked on two more runs on a throwing error by Jake Saley and a wild pitch by Ferraiolo.
Milford fought back to pull level at 5-5 in the bottom of the frame — knocking out RCP starter Doug Davenport.
Michaud sparked the uprising with an infield single, while Saley and Baglini added RBI singles.
After Cody Hadden grounded into a double play that plated Shawn Cariglio to narrow the Post 196 gap to 5-4, Pinto's grounder to third was booted by Osak, allowing Saley to score the tying run, before Cameron grounded out to end the inning.
Milford managed just one hit off of RCP reliever Kevin Post over the next five innings, but Ferraiolo kept Post 105 at bay. The ace righty stranded one runner per inning before handing the ball off to Baglini in the ninth.
That allowed Post 196 to win the game in its final at-bat, punching its ticket to the Northeast Regional in Old Orchard Beach, Maine beginning next Thursday.