No. 5 East Lyme joins Ledyard, Waterford and Lyman in ECC baseball semis
Groton — It could all fall to pieces Thursday, of course, because that's the nature of baseball. Maybe any sport, really. But it sure looked as though East Lyme High School bore the resemblance of a team not merely ready to defend its league tournament championship Wednesday, but something bigger than that, too.
"I think we can make a pretty good run," outfielder Tommy Mason said, after he made Norwich Free Academy outfielders make a pretty good run ... until they ran out of room at Fitch High School.
Mason's home run highlighted his team's 6-0 win in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament quarterfinals.
The fifth-seeded Vikings (14-8) will play No. 1 Ledyard in the semifinals Thursday, also at Fitch, a 7 p.m. The Colonels (18-3) beat No. 9 Killingly 11-0. In the other quarterfinals, No. 7 Waterford defeated No. 2 Montville 8-0 and No. 3 Lyman Memorial slipped past No. 11 Woodstock Academy 4-3. Lyman will play Waterford in the first semifinal at 4 p.m.
East Lyme left-hander and University of Rhode Island-bound Trystan Levesque pitched a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts, fortifying the belief that the Vikings have enough pitching to hang around deep into the state tournament. But if they keep hitting the ball like this ...
"We can hit," Levesque said. "Tom really squared one up today. Owen (Robbins) has been hitting. We have Chris (Malcom), Luke (Leonard) ... If we continue to execute our pitches, I think we have a chance."
Robbins' two-out, two-run single gave East Lyme a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Malcom followed with an RBI double in the second before Mason's long homer to left center in the third. The Vikings added insurance runs late for Levesque, who allowed only two hits after the first inning.
"I think it's up to our hitting, because our pitching's been really good," Mason said. "Trystan's been shoving (pitching well) and so has Dan (Allard). If we hit like this and play together, we can be really good."
East Lyme coach Jack Biggs briefly entertained the idea of perhaps holding back Levesque for the tournament semifinals or finals. As stated, it was a brief dalliance.
"We talked about it, but we decided that you still have to win today," he said. "Plus, NFA is a good team. Not that our other guys could have beaten them, but Trystan is going to open the state tournament for us. So, we wanted to get him out there now."
And speaking of the state tournament, Biggs has watched two teams in recent seasons make the finals and lose by an eyelash. Might this be The Year?
"We always talk about playing your best baseball now," he said. "Our offense and pitching were good today. And our defense was really good. You do those three things, you have a chance to get to the finals in any tournament."
• In other games, Ben Stankoski's game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh lifted No. 3 Lyman Memorial to a 4-3 victory over No. 11 Woodstock Academy at Waterford.
No. 5 East Lyme 6, No. 13 NFA 0
No. 3 Lyman Memorial 4, No. 11 Woodstock 3
No. 1 Ledyard 11, No. 9 Killingly 0
No. 7 Waterford 8, No. 2 Montville 0
No. 3 Lyman Memorial vs. No. 7 Waterford, 4 p.m.
No. 1 Ledyard vs. No. 5 East Lyme, 7 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.