Waterford beats Plainfield 7-3 to win second straight ECC baseball title
Norwich - Art Peluso, before he deftly sidestepped the water bucket treatment early Friday night, was left to quote his old friend Jack O'Keefe, a man who won four state championships doing the same job: baseball coach at Waterford High School.
"(O'Keefe) told me a long time ago, 'you've got to trust your seniors,'" Peluso said.
Good thing for the Lancers that Peluso was paying attention.
He trusted senior right-hander Colin Harrington, despite watching a six-hit, three-run second inning in Friday's Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship game at Dodd Stadium.
He believed in Iona-bound outfielder Seth Hoagland, despite a disappointing regular season in which he didn't make all-conference.
And now Peluso can say he coaches the two-time defending ECC tournament champions.
Hoagland's long RBI triple and Harrington's late-game resolve helped the No. 3 Lancers earn a 7-3 win over top-seeded Plainfield and their second straight tournament title.
Hoagland, named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, walked twice and tripled in his first three at-bats. At one time, he had reached base in seven straight plate appearances in the tournament.
"That's what happens when you swing at good pitches. You hit them hard and you hit them far," Peluso said. "Everyone was all nervous about not hitting. But if you're a .400 hitter, at the end of the year, you're probably going to be around .400.
"(Hoagland) figured it out through hard work," Peluso said. "Good things happen to you when put in the time."
Hoagland, whose triple hit the base of the right field wall, said, "my season wasn't as great as I wanted it to be. But the key is heating up at the most important time of the season. We're all turning our at bats around."
Harrington, meanwhile, surrendered a 2-0 lead, allowing six hits and three runs in the third. Junior right-hander Thomas Sutera was warming in the bullpen when Plainfield (20-3) put two runners aboard in the third - Sutera later said he nearly threw a complete game out there - but Harrington induced a double play to end the inning.
He retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
"I wasn't going to let coach take me out," Harrington said. "There was no way. Something took control of me after the second inning."
"Colin earned the opportunity to stay in there," Peluso said.
Griffin Archambault and Adam Goss hit RBI singles in the third to give the Lancers (19-4) a 4-3 lead. Kevin Johnson's two-run triple in the fifth all but iced it.
"We think of this tournament as having the same mindset of going to the state tournament," Hoagland said. "This gets you ready."
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