Canton 9-10s Complete Huge Comeback

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The Canton 9-10 All-Star team scored eight runs in the last two innings to defeat Farmington 10-8 in a thrilling come-from-behind victory to open the Connecticut Section II tournament at Peter J. Foley Little League Field in Naugatuck on Wednesday.

Canton, which won the District 6 title for the first time, trailed Farmington, the District 5 champions, 8-1 after three innings.

“I brought the kids together and I said, ‘We could either quit, or you can show us your grit, your heart and finish strong,” manager Gary Burke said. “They showed us they have heart, they have grit and they have that competitive winning spirit.”

Indeed, the rally was started by the team’s reserves in the top of the fourth inning. John Rottkamp led off with a single, advanced to third on two wild pitches and scored on an RBI single by Connor Nadeau.

That run, which made it 8-2, provided a huge psychological boost, Gary Burke said.

Canton scored four more runs to make it 8-6 in the fifth inning when Ryan Kolodziejczyk knocked in Charlie Biskupiak with an RBI single; Josh Burke scored on a wild pitch; Kolodziejczyk stole home; and Mike Puglielli drove in Connor Clement with an RBI single.

The offensive explosion continued in the sixth, as Josh Burke knocked in two with a double to make it 8-7. 21 followed with an RBI single to tie the game. Josh Burke gave Canton (6-1) the lead by scoring on a wild pitch to make it 9-8. Puglielli capped the comeback with a run-scoring infield hit to give Canton a 10-8 lead.

Relief pitcher Frankie Flaherty was able to stifle Farmington’s potent lineup, getting six consecutive outs in the fifth and sixth innings to earn the victory. The victory was particularly sweet for Flaherty, who pitched in relief in Canton’s 12-9 loss to Harwinton in the first game of District 6 pool play. In that game, Canton gave up a big lead late.

“It’s an amazing testament to these kids,” Gary Burke said. “As a coaching staff, we’re just so proud of them.”

It was a stunning turn of events for Farmington, which scored eight straight runs in the bottom of the first, second and third innings after falling behind 1-0 in the first. Nathaniel Watson drove in three runs with an RBI single and triple that knocked in two in the first and second innings.

Austin Bohlman also drove in three runs with a double and a single in the second and third innings, respectively.

Liam Chamberlain drove in two with a single in the second.

Despite the loss, Farmington manager Tom Engle remained upbeat.

“We’re not done,” he said. “We’ll come back – we’re not out of the tournament. We’re better than we played tonight. I made some poor decisions as a manager that I won’t make again. I told them to keep their heads up and we’re proud of them.”

Canton is scheduled to play District 3 champion Beacon Falls on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Naugatuck. The loser of that game will play Farmington on Friday, July 17 at 7 p.m.

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