Milford’s best lead Thermaxx Jackets

Jake Saley wasn’t planning on seeing his summer of baseball end last Sunday under clear skies and a refreshing breeze at West Haven’s Quigley Stadium.
Saley, a Jonathan Law graduate and a member of the school’s Class M state championship team in 2008, is one of four Milford players competing for Thermaxx Jackets in the West Haven Twilight League.
After taking the regular-season title, Thermaxx went on to win the Northeast Amateur Baseball Federation title on Aug. 2, downing fellow WTL opponent Columbus Auto Body, 8-2
In the process, Thermaxx, which was 8-7 at the season’s mid-point before going on a 14-game win streak, now moves on the national tournament, for the World Series starting Aug. 6 in Battle Creek, Mich.
Stratford native and current University of New Haven pitcher Brian Caselli went the distance on Sunday (pitching a nine-inning game for the first time in his career).
He picked up his sixth victory of the WTL season and it was the fourth time he’d beaten Columbus in the last four months.
After entering the game with a 0.23 earned-run average, Caselli allowed two earned runs on six hits and picked up three strikeouts.
For his efforts (which also included two scoreless innings in a win over Fedell’s Mechanics of Bridgeport), Caselli was selected as the tournament’s MVP.
Also on the team with Saley from Milford are Joey Bannon, Jake Rouse and Shawn Cariglio.
“This is incredible (to be going to the nationals),” Saley said. “I did think that we had a good chance to win this. We’re a solid team from one through nine.
“I said before this game that I thought if we could score four or more runs we’d have a good chance to win.”
From his lead-off position, Saley is one of the key offensive components for Thermaxx which led the league in just about every offensive category during the regular season.
Saley opened with a single in the first; earned a walk in the third, and followed that up with RBI singles in both the sixth and eighth innings.
Rouse and Cariglio had a hit each, as Thermaxx collected 14 overall.
Rouse also drove in two runs and Cariglio scored three times.
“We struggled some at the beginning of the season,” said Thermaxx player-manager Ryan Geffert, an assistant baseball coach at Southern Connecticut State University (where he was a former player) in the spring.
“All along I kept telling these guys all we needed to do was pick it up and stay together. We set our sights on doing this (making the national) and we kept grinding it out.”
Caselli was consistent throughout his performance. He worked quickly, moving the ball in and out and hitting the lower part of the strike zone all game long.
“I felt rested and ready to go today,” Caselli said. “I was able to attack the strike zone and stay ahead of hitters. It was nice to beat them (Columbus) today, but, in some ways, it didn’t matter. We wanted a chance to go to the nationals and we did it.”
Thermaxx, which has a 21-8 record, took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning before breaking it open with a five-run outburst. They sent nine batters to the plate against three Columbus pitchers in the inning.
In addition to Saley, Rouse and Cariglio, Will Ramos, Greg Pacelli and Gus Constantino added two hits each. Ramos also drove in two runs.
Geffert was the only starter without a hit.
“That’s okay,” he said. “The way Brian was pitching, I could’ve stayed on the bench. He texted me right after pitching on Thursday and said, ‘Coach, give me the ball on Sunday. I want that chance to get our team the W.’
“He was great today.”