Tolland forces final

BRISTOL – In a game that had everything, including a moment that recalled the George Brett pine tar incident, one big inning helped Tolland forge a 6-3 victory over Rocky Hill/Cromwell/Portland in the championship series  of the CT American Legion  North Region Tuesday  night at Muzzy Field in Bristol.

Tolland’s victory forces a one game, winner-take-all showdown between the two teams Wednesday night also at Muzzy Field.

RCP scratched two runs across in the first two innings, and it appeared that a pitching duel between RCP’s Tommy Seaver and Tolland’s Dallon Asnes was in the making.

Tolland scored its first run in the top of the third after loading the bases and benefiting from a passed ball. But, it was the fourth inning that told the story. Tolland got to Seaver and plated a tying run on a hit by Kevin Salina. Two infield hits followed, including one by Jake Kalette, which gave Tolland the go-ahead. With the bases still loaded, Luke Broadhurst smacked a ball into right field that somehow bounced past RCP fielder Logan Lessard, and cleared the bases.

Tolland’s Dallon Asnes settled in after giving up the first two runs and stayed on to pitch 7 and 2/3 innings. Tolland coach Steve Paasch said it wasn’t his intention to keep Asnes in that long, but he was doing well enough with a four-run lead.

“Dallon clearly didn’t have his ‘A’ game today, because he’s been catching a lot for us,” Asnes said. “He hasn’t had a much rest the whole tournament. I was concerned about him, but he’s a gamer and he wanted the ball.”

RCP threatened in both the 5th and 6th innings, getting two on with less than 2 outs, but could not capitalize. They finally broke through with a liner base hit RBI by Kevin Radziewicz in the ninth inning, but it was too little too late, and Tolland was able to hold on.

Paasch said his team’s batting can be streaky, but that can be good when it comes at the right time.

“Once they get some confidence, and it seems like a couple of guys string a few hits together, it’s like a ripple effect with us,” he said. “When we’re not hitting, it seems like it’s the same way.”

A bit of controversy came in the 7th, when the umpire examined a bat and then called Alex Ramirez out after an apparent base hit.

RCP coach Jay Hickey later explained that the emblem was worn off of the bat, which is a violation of Legion ball rules.

“The emblem was all smudged and it couldn’t read it,” he said. “My problem was that we had two exact models that had it. But, the rule is the rule. I’m just happy it didn’t decide the game.”

RCP’s Tucker Lord pitched 5-plus scoreless innings in relief. Hickey said Lord and Seaver did a role-reversal, of sorts. Seaver had not pitched in two weeks, despite starting the season as the second starter, but had done well in recent practice sessions, unlike Lord.

“Tommy’s been struggling, but we rested him,” Hickey said. “His bullpen sessions were good, whereas Tucker’s weren’t. Then we bring Lord in and he does a great job.”

Tolland has one loss in the double-elimination North tournament, and handed RCP its first loss, forcing one more game on July 30. The winner will represent the North in the statewide tournament in Stamford, Aug. 1 and 2.

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