RCP falls in championship series

By Danny Atkinson, TheSportsDept.com

STAMFORD – After losing to Cheshire in the opening game of the American Legion state championship series Friday night in Stamford, RCP (Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland) knew that its offense would have to take advantage of scoring opportunities on Saturday for it to win the best-of-three series. While RCP did a good job of converting on these opportunities in winning the second game 7-5, the final was a different story. Led by an outstanding pitching performance by Kyle Waldron, Cheshire won 3-0 and denied RCP its first state title.
Waldron threw a complete game, scattering six hits and overcoming three errors. He issued no walks. On the other side, Tommy Seaver kept RCP (25-8) within striking difference with a strong performance of his own. Seaver went seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out eight.
“After last night we wanted to reach that third game and have a chance at winning the championship, and we came out ready to play,” said RCP coach Jay Hickey. “Losing is tough, but getting to that position is all you can ask for. Cheshire is a good team.”
In the final, RCP dug themselves into a hole early by allowing single runs in the first and second innings. Seaver issued a bases-loaded walk to Jay Schaff in the top of the first. In the second, an error helped set up a two-out RBI single by Michael Purcell.
In the bottom of the second, RCP had its first good scoring opportunity when Christian Budzik reached on an error with two out and then advanced to third on a double by Brendan Sullivan, but Cole Ogorzalek was retired on a ground ball to short. Although RCP was able to place a runner on in every inning but the fourth, not one reached third base. The final two innings were the most frustrating. Corey Baldwin grounded into a double play to end the eighth, and Logan Lessard was stranded at second in the ninth.
Sullivan led RCP with three hits.
Much of the credit for the offense’s struggles goes to Waldron himself. The righty displayed a good fastball and excellent control, particularly low in the strike zone. He repeatedly induced grounders with runners on base.
“I didn’t know anything period about Waldron entering the game,” Hickey said. “He did a good job of keeping us from stringing together hits. We just couldn’t do it, and it’s obviously because of him.”
“Because he was able to mix together pitches and throw them for strikes, it was tough for us to find balls to hit,” Seaver said. “We just didn’t have it today.”
Cheshire (31-11) added an insurance run in the ninth inning on Daniel Shock’s double off of reliever Tucker Lord.
Although Seaver struggled mightily with his control, he pitched very effectively with runners in scoring position, where he was able to strike out batters swinging or jam them, forcing weak contact. Overall, Cheshire left 17 men on base.
“It was nice to see how well Tommy pitched since he struggled the last few games,” Hickey said. “He did a great job of keeping us in the ballgame.”
RCP forced a deciding third game with a 7-4 win earlier in the afternoon. Cheshire took quickly took a 2-1 lead and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, but Jake Regula induced a ground ball to get out of the jam. The RCP offense immediately responded in the third, scoring four runs to take a 5-2 lead. Budzik started things off with a single. Kevin Radziewicz then placed a bunt down on the first base line and Cheshire committed a throwing error, allowing Budzik to score all the way from first. After Radziewicz later scored on a fielder’s choice, Chris Bouchard and Alex Ramirez smacked RBI singles.
Cheshire cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the inning, but Regula settled down as he got deeper into his outing. Regula did a good job of escaping from jams during his five innings of work, allowing just three earned runs despite issuing eight walks. He finished with five strikeouts.
In the fifth, RCP increased its lead to 7-4 on a two-run single by Josh Zawisa. His base knock was set up by an error and a single from Lessard. From there, Lord took things over. In four innings of relief, he allowed just one hit and an unearned run while striking out two.
Four RCP players (Bouchard, Baldwin, Ramirez, and Ogorzalek) finished with two or more hits.
This was RCP’s second loss in the state championship game in three seasons. They lost to Milford in 2012. However, Saturday’s defeat does not automatically end the season, as RCP’s Northern Division title earned it a berth in the Northeast Regional tournament. The tournament begins on Thursday at Palmer Field in Middletown.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to play in the regional, “Hickey said. “Not many teams get that chance, and I’m glad we have it. I’m sure when I look back at this series when the season is long gone I’m gonna say, “Oh god, we were right there”, but right now I’m just focused on getting them prepared for Thursday.”
“It was frustrating to lose the final because we definitely thought we could win, but we’ll probably get a chance to play Cheshire again next week [at the regional] and prove we’re just as good as them,” said Seaver. “To win next week, the defense must make plays, our bats need to get going, and we must pitch well.”
RCP will play Dover (N.H.) on Thursday’s opening round at about noon.

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One Comment

  1. TheSportsDept.Com

    August 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Great run by the RCP Squad. Best of luck in the Regionals next week!

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