Tolland defeats Milford in state final

Milford Post 196 lost a 6-2 decision to Tolland in the American Legion Junior 17U state tournament at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford on Sunday, Aug. 3.

Milford’s Joe Morris was named the tournament’s top pitcher. A righthander, Morris allowed 10 hits, but no earned runs in pitching the first five innings.

Tolland’s Jacob Simon, who threw three shutout innings in relief of Thomas Slane, was the tourney MVP. Slane was the top hitter.

“These players have been so fun to manage,” Milford’s Angelo Simonelli said of his Zone 2 champions, who finished with a 24-4 record. “We have a good thing going forward.”

Zone 8 champion Tolland (22-3), which will next play in the Northeast Regionals in Manchester (N.H.), took the lead in the top of the second inning after a dropped fly ball with two outs allowed the run to score.

The margin moved to 2-0 in the third after a walk, a one-out error and a two-out bloop single.

Milford, which went down in order with three strikeouts in the first two innings, tied the game in its third at bat.

Dylan Bartel and James Mucciacciaro had solid base hits to left field to begin the rally, but Tolland catcher Dan Steiner showed off his strong arm and put the first out in the book on a pick-off play at second.

Post 196 regrouped, as Justin Lanese singled to center and Josh Mixie’s hot shot inside the third base bag loaded the bases.

Brett Huber fouled off a tough 2-2 pitch and worked Slane for his only free pass to score Mucciacciaro.

Mike Bevino’s grounder to second was good for an RBI and only one out, as Huber took out the shortstop and Bevino busted it down the line to avoid the double play.

Slane left two runners in scoring position with another grounder to Cody Ouellette at second.

Each team stranded a runner in the fourth inning, Bartel was hit by a pitch, before three Milford errors led to four unearned Tolland runs in the fifth.

A bad hop single by Sean Kelly and a misplayed grounder put two runners aboard.

After a pop out and a walk, Morris got the ground ball he was looking for with the infield in, but the throw home was low and Tolland had a 3-2 lead.

A dropped foul pop extended Simon’s at bat, and he took advantage two pitches later with an RBI single.

Steiner added a two-run single before Morris left the bases loaded with a fly ball out to Colin Firmender in right-center field.

Brian Wydra pitched the final two innings for Milford. A lefthander, Wydra retired six straight batters, two on strikes.

Simon set down 9-of-10 batters in relief, four on strikes, going into the home seventh.

He added a strikeout, but Milford wasn’t done.

Bartel reached base for the third time with his second hit. Mucciacciaro's second single was followed by Mike Piechota’s well-struck fly ball out to center.

Mixie singled to keep hopes alive, but Simon got the last out on a force out grounder to third.