WASHINGTON - Heading into his team’s CIAC Class ‘S’ second round baseball tournament game against Shepaug Valley at Ted Alex Field on May 30, Thomaston High School head coach Craig Prasauckas knew his Golden Bears were going to have their hands full.
“We’re big underdogs, I know that,” said Prasauckas, “but we’ll go out there and take out best shot at it.”
Having lost both meetings during the regular season, the Bears and their Berkshire League rivals knew who had the upper hand mentally, and the Spartans reinforced their superiority early, jumping on THS starting pitcher Isaiah Johnson quickly and never looking back in a 9-0 victory.
Shepaug’s Joseph Brunelli slammed a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the first to open the scoring, but it wasn’t until Ethan Hibbard delivered a two-run double in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach sending the fourth-ranked Spartans into the quarterfinals against Notre Dame of Fairfield on June 1, a game they won, 8-1, leading to a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Holy Cross High School on June 4.
Isaiah Johnson lasted four innings in which Shepaug reached him for six earned runs before giving way to Jason Johnson and Ryan Bethin.
The Bears managed five hits off Shepaug pitchers Jack Kennedy and Chance Dutcher, whoc combined to strike out seven while walking only two; Andrew Colavecchio had two hits apiece for THS, which finished it’s season with a 13-9 record.
The game against Shepaug marked the end of the stellar career and unbelievable season of the Goden Bears’ senior captain Andrew Colavecchio, and Prasauckas wasn’t going to let the opportunity to shine some light on him go by.
“Given the fact Andrew started the year coming off a broken elbow from basketball season, in 22 games played he ended up with a .475 batting average (29-61), with five doubles, two triples, one home run, 22 runs scored, 12 RBIs, and 23 walks (seven intentional),” said Prasauckas, who was just warming up to the task.
“On the mound, he won six games, pitched 69 innings, finished with eight complete games, 50 hits allowed, only nine earned runs, struck out 83 and walked only 15 without hitting a batter.
“He had a minute 0.91 ERA and a .942 WHIP,” Prasauckas added.
What does it all add up to?
“All of it added up to having him named first team All-Berkshire League, All State Class S, and selected to play in the District 1 Senior Select All-Star game in Plainville on June 11,” added a proud coach.
Second Round CIAC Class ‘S’ Tournament
#13 Thomaston at #4 Shepaug, May 30
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Thomaston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
Shepaug 2 0 0 4 0 3 x 9 10 0
HONKED-OFF HALE RAY
In a tightly-played first round game at home against 20th-seeded Hale-Ray of the Shorline Conference, the Bears played alertly, made the Noises pay for their mistakes on the basepaths, and behind the complete game pitching of Colavecchio, advanced to the second round with a 1-0 victory, which left the visitors honked off in more than one way.
In the early stages of the game, every time something went right for the Golden Bears, a car in the parking lot behind left field honked it’s horn several times; hey, it’s called home field advantage for a reason, right?
Well, that didn’t sit well with Hale Ray coach Richard Gable, who by the fourth inning, had heard enough and registered a complaint with the umpires, who ordered the honking to stop, which it did.
In the end, it wasn’t the beep-beeps which did in Hale Ray; it was a combination of Colavecchio’s pitching and their own mistakes on the bases, where they made three unnecessary outs which played a big role in the game’s eventual outcome.
That and a catch Colavecchio, Ryan Bethin and the fans who were there will long remember.
Scoreless through the first three innings, Hale Ray starter Chris Gionta matched Colavecchio out-for-out until the fourth inning, when the Noises ran themselves out of a potential big inning,
First, Bears’ catcher Alex Mentone threw out one runner attempting to steal second; a few moments later, after another runner reached first on an overthrow, he was caught trying to take second for the third out.
In the home fourth, the Bears struck.
Colavecchio led off the inning with a hit, but remained on first with two outs, leaving things up to his batterymate, and Mentone came through when his fly ball to left avoided the desperate lunge of Alex Ricard; by the time he got the ball back in, Colavecchio had crossed the plate with the run that would stand up, but only because Bethin made the catch of his life.
With one out and runner on second for the Noises in the sixth, Chris Cappitella hit a low liner to right-center which Bethin, running to his left, dove for in a do-or-die attempt; if the ball got by him, it was hit hard enough that it would have rolled a considerable distance for an inside-the-park home run and the lead for Hale Ray.
Instead, Bethin, going full steam ahead, dove and somehow made the catch to the cheers (and relief) of the partisan home crowd.
Hale Ray which had gone an almost-unbelieveable 75-for-76 in stolen base attempts this season, didn’t get one when they needed it most, as John Linares, who led off the seventh inning with a single, was picked off by Colavecchio, who scattered five hits, striking notu five while walking only one.
Gionta was pretty darned good, as well, holding the Bears to three hits in six innings, striking out four and not giving up a walk.
The little things won this one for the Bears; leaving their defeated visitors with a horn-swaggled feeling as they boarded the bus towards the off-season.
First Round CIAC Class ‘S’ Tournament
#20 Hale Ray at
#13 Thomaston, May 29
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Hale Ray 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
Thomaston 0 0 0 1 0 0 x 1 3 0