Road to Legion final
Behind Matt Ferraiolo’s complete-game six-hitter, Milford Post 196 defeated Cheshire, 5-3, in the American Legion Round of 16 state tournament at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford on Saturday.
The right-hander, who pitched a no-hitter against Simsbury in the play-in round, limited Cheshire, the Zone III champions, to six hits — allowing one earned run and striking out nine.
“Matt pitched great,” Milford coach Bugyi said, joking that Ferraiolo threw 130 pitches in the nine-inning contest, usually the amount he accumulates in seven innings. “He’s competitive.”
Milford (21-6) squared off with Zone II rivals Branford (20-5) on Monday at Trumbull High in a winners’ bracket match-up.
Christian Baglini doubled home Shawn Cariglio with the go-ahead run in the top of the 15th inning.
Milford played Greenwich in a winner’s bracket semifinal game on Tuesday morning in Stamford.
Cariglio walked to open the 15th, before Jake Saley sacrificed him into scoring position for Baglini, who ripped an RBI double down the left-field line.
Joe Zanghi set Branford down in the bottom of the 15th.
Cody Hadden got the start for Milford, before giving way to Baglini in the sixth inning. He was followed by Zanghi in the 11th.
Baglini and Zanghi combined to keep Branford off the board for the final 10 innings.
Branford took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
Milford scored two in the fourth on three hits — a Kyle Winters single, an Ed Michaud double, and Zanghi’s two-run double.
Branford made it 3-2 in the fourth and carried the score to 4-2 in the fifth.
Ferraiolo singled home a run in the top of the sixth.
In the top of the ninth, Nick Pinto singled, went to second on a passed ball, and Sean Cameron tied the game at 4 with an RBI single.
Ferraiolo improved his personal mark to 8-1, outdueling recently graduated Foran High ace Ryan Manning, who drew the start for Cheshire.
Manning worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, striking out seven and walking three.
“I know the kids from Law wanted to beat him because they saw him all of the time,” Bugyi said.
Cameron scored the go-ahead run for Post 196 in the top of the seventh inning.
He slashed a one-out double off of Manning that glanced off the glove of Cheshire first baseman Mike Purcell. Cameron moved to third on a balk and scored when Cheshire right-hander Ryan Fowler, on in relief of Manning, uncorked a wild pitch.
Ed Michaud then reached on a two-base error by Cheshire third baseman Kyle Waldron, but Fowler limited the damage to a run by striking out Joe Zanghi looking.
After setting down Cheshire (21-5) in order in the bottom of the seventh, Ferraiolo ran into trouble after issuing a two-out walk to Manning.
Kevin Mirando, who went 2-for-2 with a pair of sacrifice bunts, followed with a single to left field to put the tying run in scoring position.
Ferraiolo ran the count full to the next batter, Waldron, but got a called third strike to retire the side.
“After we scored the run, I couldn’t let them get the lead back,” Ferraiolo said. “I’d feel too bad. My team worked too hard. I just focused.”
Milford, the No. 13 seeded, tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning.
Michaud hammered a double down the left-field line, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored with Zanghi hit an RBI single to center.
Armed with a two-run edge, Ferraiolo mowed down Cheshire in the home half of the frame, striking out Wes Robertson and Dan Schock consecutively to seal the victory.
Cheshire grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, capitalizing on back-to-back errors by Winters at second base.
“We didn’t play a real solid game on defense,” Bugyi said. “Usually we do.”
After mishandling Jordan Kubilus’ grounder, Winters fielded a grounder from Manning ranging toward first base. Winters pivoted and attempted to cut down the lead runner Kubilus at second, but his throw sailed into center field, allowing the runners to advance to second and third.
Mirando then lashed a two-run double over the head of Pinto in right field, staking Cheshire to a 2-0 advantage.
Ferraiolo kept the deficit at two runs, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a Tim Budd flyout, and allowed just one run the rest of the way.
Milford cut the margin in half in the top of fourth with a two-out uprising.
With one out, Zanghi walked, but was picked off by Manning.
Cariglio pulled a single through the hole between first and second and Saley was hit by a pitch.
That brought Baglini to the plate and he delivered, belting an RBI double to right-center field alley.
Schock, the Cheshire center fielder, made a strong relay throw to the first baseman Purcell, who threw to Waldron to catch Saley attempting to advance to third.
“He [Baglini] has been swinging the bat well,” Bugyi said. “He’s a good hitter.”
Cheshire countered with a run in the bottom of the fourth, when Waldron singled in Kubilus. Again Ferraiolo skirted further danger, stranding runners on second and third by getting a pop-up to Winters and a called third strike.
Post 196 tied the game in the top of the sixth.
Winters led off with a single and Michaud was robbed of an extra-base hit on a fine catch by Schock in the gap.
Zanghi singled and two batters later, Manning hit Saley to cap a 10-pitch at-bat.
That loaded the bases for Baglini, who hit a grounder to short that Cheshire shortstop Jay Schaff threw away, allowing the tying runs to score.
“We took advantage of their miscues,” Bugyi said.
Cheshire eliminated Trumbull, 3-0, on Sunday, before Unionville Post 32 ousted Cheshire, 8-6, in 13 innings.