Pointers force deciding game with late drama
Warwick, R.I. - Moments after winning in dramatic fashion Saturday to keep their New England Region 21 championship hopes alive, UConn-Avery Point players ran out of the dugout to mob their hero.
Somewhere in the middle of the victory celebration stood a happy Joel Acosta.
Acosta's one-out single down the left field line scored Alex Miller in the bottom of the 10th inning to end game two of their best-of-three championship series against host Community College of Rhode Island.
Avery Point's 3-2 victory set up a third and deciding game at noon today.
"I'm humbled by it," Acosta said. "I'm just glad that I was in that situation and fortunately we won."
With Avery Point's Zach Albin and CCRI's Jacob Tillman in command on the mound, it was no surprise that it took extra innings to decide the outcome. Albin allowed four hits and two runs in nine innings, striking out five and walking one, while Tillman was equally as tough while going the distance.
"Good game," Avery Point coach Roger Bidwell said. "Both pitchers did great. Albin pitched terrific. … He didn't get the win but he won the game for us. He really did. He kept us in the game."
Sophomore Shawn Nadeau, a left-hander from Groton, earned the win, striking out two and allowing one hit in the 10th.
The Pointers (35-9) nearly pushed across the winning run in the ninth after CCRI (22-9) tied the score at 2-all in the top of the inning on Ryan O'Dell's single. Avery Point loaded the bases with one out on two walks and an error, but pinch-hitter Diondrey Sapp grounded into a fielder's choice with the out recorded at home and Alex LeFevre struck out.
When given another chance in the 10th, the Pointers delivered.
Miller started the rally by lacing a single to center and Nick DeLotto laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. Then Acosta, Avery Point's 5-foot-8, 160-pound leadoff hitter, set off the celebration.
While Bidwell had faith in Acosta, he also knew it would be difficult to finish off the Knights, who won the series opener 8-0 on Friday.
"I wasn't that confident," Bidwell said. "I wasn't sure. We had a number of opportunities, but the hardest hit to get is that clutch hit to win a game or drive in a run. That's why it doesn't happen that often. Joel, to his credit, he put a good at-bat on."
The Pointers carried a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning, courtesy of Nick Perrelli's two-out single in the first.
Albin cruised through the first five innings and didn't allow a hit until the sixth before running into trouble in the seventh. Jacob Waldren singled, moved to third on consecutive groundouts and scored on Ed Apice's game-tying single.
Avery Point answered in its at-bat as Andrew Hinckley walked and went to third on Perrelli's double. Matt Greene, a sophomore from New London, hit a sacrifice fly to put the Pointers on top, 2-1.
After retiring the side in order in the eighth, Albin began to labor in the ninth. He hit Tillman, then fielded Waldren's sacrifice bunt attempt and made a wild throw while trying to cut down the lead runner at second.
"I kind of grabbed it and got a little to antsy," Albin said.
After fielder's choice put runners at first and third, Albin gave up O'Dell's RBI single before escaping further trouble, striking out Zachary Wood to end the inning. Albin left the game after throwing 115 pitches.
"They're a great hitting team and very aggressive," Albin said. "I was using every pitch in my repertoire to get guys out."
Bidwell will hand the ball to left-hander Doug Domnarski, a Stonington High School graduate, to start today's series deciding game.
"We have to play our best to win, no question about it," Bidwell said. "And I hope we play well enough so they have to play their best to win."
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