WATERTOWN - Coming off an improbable run to the NVL’s post-season tournament championship game, Watertown High School came in ready to play when the CIAC’s Class ‘M’ tourament got underway. “We’re playing well, and this is the time you want to be doing that,” said coach Jerry Valentino after the Indians’ narrow 3-2 loss to Holy Cross in the league title game. “Now we’ll take a shot at the big prize.”
The tournament began with the locals facing a familiar opponent in Iron Division rival Wolcott High School on June 1.
The Indians struck for two runs in the top of the first inning, a lead they made 3-0 with a run in the sixth inning, a margin which appeared to be enough for starting pitcher Tyler Longoria, who lasted 5.2 innings and struck out 10 Eagles.
Trouble reared it’s ugly head in the Wolcott sixth, when the home team pushed across four runs to take the lead and put the Indians in a do-or-die situation in the seventh.
They did, as John Biolo ripped an RBI single to even the game at 4-4, forcing extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the biggest hit of the season flew off the bat or Tino Tanganelli, who blasted a three-run homer to give the Indians a 7-4 victory.
Cam Guerrera hit a two-run blast and a solo homer; Jake Gamber aded two hits as did Biolo.
“It was a great win,” said Valentino. “The guys really showed their grit and determination aftrer going up early and then having to come back.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
Watertown 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 7 9 1
Wolcott 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 4 8 1
Another familiar opponent awaited the Indians in the second round, this time the Woodland Regional High School Hawks, seeded third in Class ‘M.’
Again, the Indians were down, trailing 4-1, but again they got off the mat and tied the score at 4-4 in the fourth on a bases-loaded three-run double by Henry Marino.
Woodland bounced back with two0run salvos in the fifth and sixth inning to go ahead, 8-4 and this time the Indians’ comeback formual was used up.
Peyton DeFeo and Guerrera hit Watertown home runs and Tanganelli had a pair of hits, but in the end, the Hawks advanced with an 8-5 win on their way to a semifinal round game against Northwestern on June 8.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Watertown 0 1 0 3 0 0 1 5 6 1
Woodland 0 3 1 0 2 2 x 8 9 0
“As a coaching staff, we were very happy with the season,” said Valentino. “We always say at the beginning of the year ‘let’s make both tournaments and give it a shot and we did.’”
Valentino added, “we made a nice run in the NVL’s and made it to the finals and lost a tough one. We then went on to the states and beat a good Wolcott team up there and then came up a little short against a very good Woodland team. so in the end we’re very proud of our team and felt like we were playing are best baseball at the end of the season, which is always a goal.”
After a challenging two years, Valentino is looking forward to a 2022 season which will be played under back-to-normal conditions.
“It was a challenging year playing through a pandemic but we made it work and I was really happy to just be out there on a baseball field, coaching and playing after not playing for two years,” Valentino said.