Norwich - East Lyme High School, with the unlikeliest hero, made Eastern Connecticut Conference history Friday night.
Senior pitcher Jake Unwin, making just his third appearance of the year, allowed one hit over five shutout innings of relief for the victory as East Lyme beat Fitch 5-3 in the ECC baseball tournament final night at Dodd Stadium.
The historic part is that the Vikings, seeded fourth, won the tournament for the third straight year.
"The way that Jake came in and shut the door was unbelievable,'' said East Lyme senior catcher Chase Livingston, the only starter for all three years. "It's an amazing feeling. No team has ever won three in a row.''
East Lyme (19-4) beat top-seeded Montville 4-2 earlier Friday in the semifinals and then No. 2 Fitch.
"It says that the guys played well and established a tradition started three years ago,'' said East Lyme coach Jack Biggs. "Montville... Fitch ... this is probably one of the best tournaments in five or six years.''
Now back to Unwin. The right hander, who pitched in two games for a total of two innings this season before Friday, helped make it all possible.
East Lyme scored three times in the top of the third for a 3-0 lead, but East Lyme starter Cole Tretter ran into trouble in the bottom of the third. A leadoff walk, a single, a balk then a two-run single by Fitch's Shawn Nadeau brought Unwin on.
After getting the first out, Unwin (1-0) walked two batters and uncorked a wild pitch that tied the game. But a failed suicide squeeze by Fitch resulted in a second out and he got Ollie Auerbach to pop up for the third out.
Over the next five innings Unwin, who struck out three and walked two, allowed just a fourth-inning single to John Conley.
"I wasn't expected to come in,'' said Unwin. "I was shaking. I had to battle through it.''
Biggs, for one, wasn't surprised he did. "Jake hasn't gotten on the mound much this season, with my three pitchers going so deep into games,'' said Biggs. "But this guy is good enough to be a starter for most of the teams in the league.''
East Lyme broke the 3-3 tie in the top of the fifth. Zach Kane, who had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run, led off with a triple and eventually scored on Pete Gonski's single. And in the sixth East Lyme pinch-hitter Justin Briasco reached on an error and scored on another error for a 5-3 lead.
Austin Toback and Gonski had two hits each for East Lyme and Chris Corum-Giles, Nadeau and Conley had scored a run and had a hit for Fitch (19-4).
Sophomore David Porter, making his first varsity start, pitched five innigs for Fitch and allowed five hits with four strikeouts and five walks.
"I can't say enough about him,'' said Fitch coach Marc Peluso. "That's pretty damn good. I'm very pleased with where we're at right now. We're right where we need to be.''
In the semifinals, Montville (19-3) took a 2-0 lead over East Lyme on a two-run single by Buddy Dewaine in the fourth inning but the Vikings scored three in the top of the fifth inning and one in the sixth for the win. Josh Beaulieu was 3-for-3 with a RBI and Anthony Carambot and Gonski also drove in runs.
Fitch advanced with a 4-1 win over No. 6 Lyman Memorial (15-7). Jon Mewha, Conley and Auerbach drove in runs for Fitch.