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Norwich - It is not lost on the baseball players of Waterford High School that they're the defending champions of this tournament. Nor have they forgotten about their big bagel during the regular season against rival Montville.
Senior Seth Hoagland tells the story best:
"We wanted to reassure ourselves that they don't own us," Hoagland said Thursday. "Even if (Montville) said they don't care about this tournament, we needed to prove to them we meant business."
And they certainly did.
The third-seeded Lancers advanced to the finals of the Eastern Connecticut Conference baseball tournament with a 10-2 win over Montville, turning two regular season losses to the No. 2 Indians into a duller ache.
Waterford (18-4) will play top-seeded Plainfield, a 3-1 victory over No. 4 East Lyme, in the finals today at 4:30 p.m. at Dodd Stadium.
Tournament officials, citing the chance of rain tonight, moved the game from the original 7 p.m. start.
Hoagland did his part: four hits, two RBI and two runs scored. His offense backed starter Connor Lewis, who used his 60-pitch limit economically. After allowing a hit to Stan Kesilewski with two outs in the first inning, Lewis retired the next 11 hitters he faced.
"He's gotten better every time he's pitched," Waterford coach Art Peluso said of Lewis.
"I thought it was a big game," Lewis said. "I know the ECC tournament prepares you for the state tournament. Plus we lost to them twice. It was a good test for me, too, getting ready to pitch against good teams next week."
Ironically, one of them might be Montville (18-4). There's a chance Waterford and Montville would play a Class M quarterfinal next week.
For now, though, the Lancers can look ahead to tonight and enjoy a measure of revenge. They snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth with five runs, highlighted by Griffin Archambault's RBI double and Adam Goss' two-run single.
Hoagland had a two-run single in the sixth.
Justin Pandolfe pitched the last 2 1/3 for the Lancers.
"I told the kids that if we come here, we're coming here to win," Peluso said. "If they keep score we want to win. They were keeping score as far as I know."
Peluso said Colin Harrington (6-0) gets the ball today.
"We don't have a guy who has thrown more than 40 innings and it's because of Colin," Peluso said. "He's 6-0 with six starts and six complete games."
In the second game, Plainfield (20-2) wiped out an early 1-0 deficit by scoring three runs without the benefit of a hit in the third inning. That made a hard-luck loser out of East Lyme's Jack Livingston, who allowed only two hits over two innings. The Vikings (12-10) scored their lone run in the first on an RBI double by Dean Beebe.