Hammerin' Hawgs Push Trumbull To Final Inning Before State Championship Walk-Off Loss
The Newtown Hammerin' Hawgs pushed defending state champion and host Trumbull to the finish in a tough 2-1 walk-off loss in the 14U Babe Ruth State Tournament championship round at Unity Park, July 12.
Coming out of the loser's bracket, the Hawgs needed to beat Trumbull to force a winner-take-all game the next day, but unbeaten Trumbull escaped with the win despite a tremendous effort by the Hawgs.
Johnny Bova's two-strike, no-out single to center field over a drawn in infield and outfield plated Bryan Kraus to send Trumbull into the New England Regional Tournament.
Bova had previously been denied a go-ahead hit by Newtown shortstop Jack Petersen. In the fifth, with the score tied 1-1, Trumbull loaded the bases with no outs. Petersen dove to glove a hard grounder by Bova and threw home to catcher Matt Pietrorazio to nab Kraus trying to score.
Pitcher Steven Cotton fielded a bunt and threw home for the second out, and Petersen made a leaping grab of a line drive headed for left-center field, thwarting the rally.
Earlier in the game, the Hawgs executed a rundown to erase a Trumbull opportunity.
In the third, with runners at first and third and no outs, Kraus attempted a steal of second. Newtown's shortstop while Petersen was on the mound to start the game, Dylan Goyette, ran Kraus back to first and, when Trumbull's Jack Wallace committed home from third, threw to the plate leading to a pickle which culminated with the first out of the inning. The Hawgs had practiced this play throughout the season on the off chance it would pay off and it finally did. Kraus took third on the sequence but two pitches later was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice. A strikeout ended the inning.
"We made every single play. We just lost to the better team today," Newtown Manager Chris Petersen said. "It was a great baseball game."
Trumbull scored in the first inning, and Newtown answered in the third when Petersen singled and scored on a Pietrorazio single.
Trumbull starting pitcher Kraus (12 strikeouts) and Newtown starter Petersen both held usually potent offenses in check.
An error, infield single, and hit by pitch in the seventh set the stage for the game-deciding hit.
Trumbull had beaten Newtown four times before, including in pool play of the double-elimination tournament.
"It's hard to beat a team five times - especially a team as good as they are," Trumbull coach Mike Buswell said.
"These are two great teams that know each other well, and it came down to the last inning," said Mike Majeski, an assistant coach with Newtown.
After losing 11-1 to Trumbull in pool play, the Hammerin' Hawgs lived up to their name, defeating Waterford 10-1 on July 9, Amity of Woodbridge 18-4 on July 10, then the Darien Blue Hawks 10-0 in a mercy-rule, six-inning shortened game on July 11 to qualify for the pinnacle round.
"We've been doing it all year. The best thing about this is, one through 12, everybody contributes," said Chris Petersen, whose team defeated Danbury 11-1 to capture the Western Connecticut District Championship.
Against Darien, Pietrorazio pitched and earned the win for the Hawgs, giving up only two hits, while striking out five batters in four innings of work. Zack Majeski closed the game for Newtown, giving up only one hit in relief.
Drew Poseno went 3-for-4. David Braun, Dylan Goyette (who hit a triple in the fourth), and Pietrorazio each had two hits.
Zack Majeski, the leadoff hitter, singled, walked, and scored a run; Jack Petersen walked and scored twice; Cotton walked and scored; and Ryan Heran had an RBI single, walked twice, and scored.
The Hawgs scored a run in the first, two in each the second and third innings, and four in the fourth, before plating the game-ending run in the sixth. Both teams played well in the field, each committing only one error.
Braun, in addition to his work in the batter's box, made a pair of nice plays in left field. Chris Petersen noted that Braun returned to the lineup only the day before after suffering a broken thumb while catching in the first game of the season. The coach said Braun's ability to bounce-back and play at a high level is something he sees in the entire team.
"We're the Hawgs. We don't let things bother us. We don't mind coming from the loser's bracket," the coach said.
And the Hawgs nearly overcame a Trumbull team that last year won the 13U title and went on to get to within just one victory of qualifying for the World Series.
"They did an awesome job," Mike Majeski said.
Chris Petersen is assisted by coaches Mike Majeski and Vin Pietrorazio. Players are Brandon Akbas, Andon Bambino, Zack Majeski, Drew Poseno, David Braun, Dylan Goyette, Ryan Verdi, Matt Pietrorazio, Jack Petersen, Ryan Heran, Steven Cotton, and Travis McClay.
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