Little League: International defeats East Haven, 7-1
The Milford International 12U Little League All-Stars used a late-game surge, scoring two runs in the fifth and tacking on another five just for comfort in the sixth, on their way to a 7-1 victory over East Haven at Ralph Clarkson Field on Thursday night.
Milford International improved to 3-1, with two teams with two games remaining in its bracket. The top four teams in each bracket will meet in the single-elimination quarterfinals that begin on Monday.
There may be 13 players on head coach Pat Fallon's roster, but on Thursday night, as a gentle breeze blew in off Milford Harbor, two of the teams' 12-year olds, stood out.
Starting pitcher Justin Gentallan worked into the fifth inning, allowing four hits before he hit the 85-pitch game-count limit. During his stretch, Gentallan struck out three none bigger than his final K in the fourth inning.
Faced with a second and third situation, Gentallan, who displays a nice over the top delivery, struck out pinch hitter Joe Slane after working him to a one-and-two count.
At the plate in the top of the fifth, Gentallan slapped a ball to right center which allowed both Ron Mastroni (who walked) and Nate Seluga (who reached on an error) to score.
Gentallan tried to stretch it into a triple before he was cut down at third on a perfectly-thrown relay from East Haven second baseman Zack Marcucci.
Cal Wrigley replaced Gentallan on the mound in the fifth.
Wrigley had the game-breaking hit when he doubled with the bases loaded in the sixth, chasing home Cian Carroll, Jaden Prosser and Seluga. All three had reached base on walks.
Milford's other runs in the inning were scored by Brandon Fallon who walked, went to third on Jackson Cunningham's base hit to right and raced home on a wild pitch by East Haven's Chris Maggiore.
Cunningham came around to score on Jack Beaupre’s RBI grounder.
East Haven mounted a mini-rally in the sixth off of Wrigley.
After getting Jon Paul Garea to strike out, Wrigley allowed a single to Maggiore who then moved up a base on a wild pitch. When Rocco Lombardi followed with a ground ball to second that was misplayed to put runners on the corners.
Zack Marcucci then grounded out to Seluga at shortstop.
Maggiore alertly took off from third, scoring East Haven's run.
Now down to its last out, Ryan Vallie hit a grounder which was fielded by Vin Hine at second who threw to Beaupre at first to end the game.
"It's Little League baseball and you never know what's going to happen," Fallon said. "It was nice to get those five runs in the top of the inning. It gave us a cushion to work with."
Fallon applauded Gentallan for his play.
"Justin’s one of the catalysts on this team," Fallon said. "He not only pitched well, but he came up with a big hit when we needed one. As he goes, so goes our team."
Prior to Thursday night, Milford International had posted wins over Hamden (8-3) and Orange (5-4). The team's only loss came against North Branford (8-1).
Teams in the district's other bracket include Milford Lou Gehrig (3-1) along with Max Sinoway (North Haven), Walter Pop Smith (New Haven), Annex (New Haven), West Haven and Branford.
"For this group of kids, it will be a new experience," Fallon said. "None of them have played in a single-elimination round game.The horizon changes now."
Team members are Jaden Prosser, Nate Seluga, Justin Gentallan, Cal Wrigley, Joe Cichowski, Brendan Fallon, Vin Hine, Jackson Cunningham, Zack Trevathan, Cian Carroll, Jack Beaupre, Ron Mastroni and Jake Jasminski.