East Lyme and Mystic are going the distance in District 10
Waterford - It has been established that no parent, baseball coach or psychologist can be sure what any 12-year-old is thinking at a given time.
But Greg Toback, who coaches baseball in East Lyme, was relatively sure Friday night that panic would not be among the thoughts of his players, even facing a 1-0 deficit to Mystic in the best-of-three District 10 Little League baseball championship series.
"They play loose," Toback said.
And quite well. East Lyme forced tonight's winner-take-all title game with a 6-2 victory to tie the series.
The championship game is at 5:30 at Waterford South.
"They've been playing together since they were eight," Toback said. "They've always come back the next day. Winning the district (10-11) championship last year matured them into never getting down on themselves. It helped us deal with (Thursday's) defeat."
Winning pitcher Tommy Bonelli allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings, striking out five. Joey Grubb finished, escaping a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth.
"Bonelli was on fire," Toback said. "We knew after (Thursday) that Mystic is a great hitting team. (Pacey) Steele, (Giovanni) Valentine, (Tyler) Cady are great hitters. We had to locate pitches better. Bonelli lived low all night and kept them off balance."
Bonelli also had three hits, including a two-run single in the third inning that gave East Lyme a 2-1 lead and the lead for good.
Bonelli went 3-for-3. Ethan Toback doubled in a run for East Lyme, Zac Aquino hit an RBI single and Nathan Diaz made several catches near the fence in right field.
East Lyme led 6-1 into the fifth.
Mystic took a 1-0 lead in the first when Steele singled home leadoff hitter Manish Rane-Castrodad, who finished with two hits and two runs scored.
Andrew Kerst followed Steele's single with a long double, giving Mystic the potential for a big early inning. But Bonelli induced a grounder to Grubb to end the threat.
"Even though they got the early lead on us," Toback said, "we looked at it as a positive. They could have scored more. It could have been worse."
Toback said the recipe for tonight's game isn't much different.
"Locate pitches, play good defense and hit the ball," he said. "We know Mystic is a very good team."
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