Vikings beat rival Lancers 6-1 to capture ECC baseball tourney title
Groton — A season of championship games, dueling student sections and general levels of excellence reached its apex Friday night, the deciding game of the allegory that has been Waterford vs. East Lyme this season.
After the schools split a league championship basketball game that filled the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse and left hundreds out in the cold to Thursday night's league lacrosse title game decided by one goal, the final athletic endeavor between them this season decided the rivalry's unofficial winner for 2018.
This was the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship baseball game, Lancers vs. Vikings, blood rivals who have entertained us all this school year.
And when it ended Friday, Viking Valley was awash in satisfaction, following a 6-1 victory.
"I don't know that this makes up for basketball, but it feels good," said East Lyme centerfielder Luke Leonard, who had two hits and two RBI. "We lost in this game last year (to Stonington in extra innings) and learned the hard way. We wanted this year to be different. This is what happens when we play together."
It hasn't been an easy season for East Lyme, what with several different issues to navigate. But the fifth-seeded Vikings are suddenly 14-10, sporting some tournament hardware.
"This one ranks pretty high for our program," East Lyme coach Jack Biggs said. "It's been a few years since we won it. We value this tournament. Plus, anytime it's East Lyme-Waterford, you know it's going to be exciting."
Funny thing, though: East Lyme starter and tournament Most Valuable Player Dan Allard did his best to make this not so exciting. He was magnificent, especially after the second inning, finishing with seven strikeouts. He scattered seven hits and allowed only four baserunners in the final five innings.
"When we got the lead (in the fourth), I was feeling pretty good," Allard said. "But really all night. It's East Lyme-Waterford. The adrenaline was really going. I can't feel my arm right now."
Leonard and Chris Malcom hit consecutive RBI singles in the fourth to give East Lyme the lead for good at 3-1. Tristan Levesque's RBI double and RBI singles from Leonard and Eric Patterson highlighted a three-run fifth.
Levesque and Matt Malcom also had two hits apiece for East Lyme.
Bobby Silva, Waterford's starter, had three hits. Silva went four innings and allowed no earned runs as Waterford's defense made three errors behind him. The second-seeded Lancers are 17-5.
"This was a big moment for some kids and a learning moment, too," Waterford coach Art Peluso said. "We've been in this game before. Won some, lost some. We just kicked it around a little too much tonight. But I thought Bobby pitched very well. And I was very impressed with (reliever) Ryan O'Connell."
O'Connell allowed one hit in two innings of relief.
"It's a competitive game so of course you want to win," Peluso said. "But we'll be OK."
Stories that may interest you
New London's Jacob Commander used his toughness and will to win his third ECC title and second Class L title this season. He also used his stubborness to rally back from quarterfinal losses at both the State Open and New Englands to finish third.
Stonington took sole possession of first place in Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II play in girls' lacrosse with a 17-11 win over Waterford on Thursday night.
Phoenix Billings hit a monstrous two-run, go-ahead home run in the top of the sixth inning as sixth-ranked Hand sent top-ranked Ledyard to a 6-3 baseball loss, its first of the season.
The score was tied at halftime, 6-6, and had been deadlocked three times before that between Fitch, the challenger, and 13-time defending Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I champion East Lyme.