Ellington Continues Great Season With Decisive Win Against Stafford

By Danny Atkinson

STAFFORD-The Ellington High School baseball team continued their great stretch of play by defeating rival Stafford 12-3 last Wednesday afternoon. The Knights, ranked seventh in the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register state poll, clinched their second consecutive NCCC title while improving to 16-0 overall and 14-0 in the conference. Their offense took advantage of poor defense by Stafford (8-12), which committed eight errors.

Ellington immediately took control of the game by scoring six runs in the top of the first inning against starter Devon Labua. After senior third baseman and leadoff hitter Kyle Luginbuhl reached base on an error and junior infielder Jack Leslie singled, winning pitcher Dakota Aldrich and junior center fielder Alex Domingos drove them in with singles. Domingos’ hit scored Aldrich as well following his steal of second base. The Knights again flashed their speed as Domingos stole a base with senior second baseman Chase Kidd up at bat. He scored via an error on a ball hit by Kidd to make it 4-0. Kidd promptly stole second and scored on a single by senior left fielder Owen Kloter following a walk to junior shortstop Logan Terry.The Knights scored their final run of the first on a double play hit by senior designated hitter Nick Abbruzzese.

“We’ve been swinging the bats well all season long and have a lot of talented hitters. We put a good amount of pressure on the defense by hitting the ball hard and took advantage of a few errors and plays they gave away,” Ellington head coach Keith Tautkas said when asked about the first inning. “It was important to get a good early lead because Stafford has a good offense.”

“When we went to our huddle meeting after warmups, one of our players heard the Stafford guys asking “how can they be 15-0?”. That fired us up and inspired us to have a big first inning,” Aldrich said. “It set the tone for the game.”

The Knights maintained their momentum in the top of the second with another run to make it 7-0. Luginbuhl opened the inning with a walk, advanced to third on a single by Leslie and scored on a sacrifice fly to center from Aldrich.

The Bulldogs scored their first run in the bottom of the frame on a groundout to second by Jake Rollins, scoring Brandon Kallenbach.

Aldrich pitched well in the game’s middle innings as his offense increased his lead. The senior starter consistently threw strikes and mixed his pitches well, keeping hitters off balance. Aldrich also forced many ground balls and pitched out of multiple jams. Ultimately, he threw six innings and allowed four hits while striking out six.

“I was able to throw a lot of strikes today,” Aldrich said. “My curveball was working pretty well and I mixed my pitches. However, I can do a better job of keeping the ball down in the zone.”

“Dakota pitched great again. He has been strong all season long,” Tautkas said. “He did a great job of pitching under pressure and getting out of jams.”

Ellington manufactured two runs in the fifth to go up 9-1. Kloter reached first base on a fielder’s choice and then advanced to second and third on a single by Abbruzzese and passed ball. He scored on an error by the right fielder, who lost a fly ball in the sun. Abbruzzese advanced to third on the error before scoring on a sacrifice fly to left by Luginbuhl.

The Knights scored their final three runs in the sixth. Terry drove in Aldrich on a single, and Abbruzzese concluded his great day by smacking a two-run double.

Labua hit a two-run single for Stafford in the sixth, which concluded its season with a loss to Windsor Locks Thursday night.

Ellington is ending the season with a blur of games, playing four in all last week and three this week, all on the road. Aldrich discussed what this unusual challenge has been like.

“With games one after the other, you take the momentum from your last win and bring it to the next. We look forward to all the games coming up. We have to do what we did today and continue to pitch well and start out quickly on offense, putting our feet on the gas,” he said.

Following strong wins at Granby Memorial, Haddam-Killingworth and Canton Monday, the Knights finally lost at Tolland Tuesday, 5-3. They are now 18-1 and 16-0 in conference, with the finale coming at East Granby Friday.

Following the loss, Ellington has outscored opponents 145-32 this season. Tautkas discussed the biggest reasons for his squad’s success.

“We’ve had a lot of guys step up in the rotation. Dakota has pitched great, and Kyle Luginbuhl is 5-0 and (senior) Josh Sumislaski 4-0. We have a strong hitting lineup and some great defenders. We are also a fast team and can put pressure on defenders.”

Tautkus also discussed his thoughts on whether the Knights can go on a deep state tournament run in the coming weeks. They are currently ranked first in the Class M standings.

“It’s always a tough call. I think we can, especially if our pitchers are performing at a higher level. The guys have been better than we thought they could be. We’ll have to see how the team plays in its first game,” he said.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *