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New Britain — Montville High School's mistakes started in the first inning and kept piling up.
The Indians lacked their usual crisp execution in Monday's CIAC Class M baseball semifinal.
They committed five errors. Their pitchers issued six walks and hit four batters. They had a runner thrown out at the plate and hit into three double plays, including two with the bases loaded.
It all added up to a 7-3 loss to No. 11 St. Joseph of Trumbull at Beehive Stadium. The 10th-seeded Indians (18-7) fell short in their quest to win their third state title in four years.
"That's the game of baseball," Montville senior Brandon Haas said. "You can't really play your A-plus game every single game. Today, the baseball gods weren't with us."
The Cadets (19-6) advanced to state title game for the first time since 1985 despite being outhit, 8-5.
"We had a feeling we might see them later on," said St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves, whose team scrimmaged Montville earlier this spring. "(Montville coach Phil Orbe) always puts out a quality team. ... Maybe we caught them on a bad day."
St. Joseph took advantage of a walk, two errors and an outfield misplay that was scored a generous run-scoring double to seize a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The deficit grew to 7-0 in the third when the Cadets scored five more times, using another error, two walks, a hit-by-pitch to help fuel a rally. Nick Williams and Jon Prutting each contributed a two-run single against losing pitcher Joseph Brachas.
Brachas wasn't as sharp as he was in the second round against Haddam-Killingworth Wednesday when he pitched a two-hitter in a 3-1 win.
"Joey has been great for us all year," Orbe said.
"I really believe he's one of the two or three top pitchers in our area. He had good stuff today but he didn't execute his pitches."
The Indians eventually showed their competitive character, fighting back into the game.
In the fourth, Jordan Zeppieri, Andrew Fratoni and Stanley Kesilewski contributed consecutive RBI singles to cut the gap to 7-3.
But with the bases loaded, Haas bounced into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. First baseman Ryan Moran made a terrific stretch at the back end of the nice defensive play.
"I shouldn't have swung at that pitch," Haas said. "But it happens."
The Indians squandered another great opportunity in the fourth, failing to score despite three singles and a walk. Brachas was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second and Zeppieri hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
Orbe was pleased with the overall development of the team this season and the way they never quit in the their final postseason game.
"They gave us a chance," Orbe said. "All the prodding and yelling and being very demonstrative to them, instead of them tuning me out, they wanted to get better. They put themselves in the position to be here, to be one bad high school inning away from getting to the state finals.
"We've won our share of these types of games. I guess, sometimes you've got to lose one."