Waterford, Fitch beat the rain and will play for ECC baseball championship

Norwich — Fitch High School team will get one more crack at Waterford.

The teams shared the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division baseball title this season at 8-2, despite Waterford sweeping the two-game series.

Thursday night both teams won their semifinal games in the ECC tournament at Dodd Stadium, with second-seeded Waterford outlasting No. 6 East Lyme 7-5 and No. 4 Fitch beating No. 8 Stonington 10-0 before heavy rain brought the game to a halt in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Waterford ousted the Vikings, the three-time defending tournament champ, in a game that featured six errors and multiple other mental mistakes. Not that Waterford coach Art Peluso minded too much.

"I'm just happy to be (in the final)," said Peluso, whose younger brother Marc coaches Fitch. "I'm glad we've got another game and we won't have that long layoff until Tuesday."

Waterford and Fitch not only share the Large title and the Peluso name, both are now 18-4.

Now back to settling the title tonight amidst a forecast for more precipitation. The game is set for 7 p.m., but if they can't play tonight, they would try again on Saturday at noon.

If it rains Saturday, the teams would be declared co-champs, sharing yet another title, and turn their attention to the upcoming state tournament.

Waterford led 5-2 after two innings, then held on. Sophomore Connor Lewis (4-1) started on the mound and allowed four runs (two earned) over four innings for the win. Adam Goss followed with three innings of solid relief, but the Lancers had to overcome their errors.

"That was our mantra," said Art Peluso. "Figure out how to get it done. We usually make plays."

Will Sherman, Tom Pezzolesi and Sam Strout had two hits each for Waterford. East Lyme (14-8) got two hits each from Anthony Carambot, Adam Rigney and Josh Beaulieu. But missed cutoff throws, shaky baserunning and two errors helped doom the Vikings.

"Defense sets the tone for the game," said East Lyme coach Jack Biggs. "And we didn't play well defensively. It's very tough to overcome errors, especially against a team like Waterford.

Fitch couldn't put away Stonington early, failing to score in the first inning after loading the bases with no outs. But four walks and an infield single by Pete Aldrich in the second gave Fitch a 3-0 lead.

Stonington (13-8), which knocked off No. 1 St. Bernard in Wednesday's quarterfinals, ran out of steam in the third, when Fitch turned five hits and two errors into six runs. No. 9 hitter Justin Wallace hit the first pitch reliever Jay Nieuwenhuis threw into left field for a two-run double.

"It was nice to come out and get some big hits," said Marc Peluso, "especially when somebody from the lower part of the order comes through."

Tristan Hurley was the winner, allowing two hits over four innings with six strikeouts and four walks.

With Aldrich's pitching over for the season due to an elbow injury, Peluso plans to start David Porter in the title game.

Now it's just a question of when that will be.



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