No. 18 Ledyard edges Lewis Mills 3-2 in Class M baseball quarters
Burlington — The ball left James Laconico's hand in center field, running like a current toward third base.
Scott Chiasson, his coach, who normally sits somewhat placidly on a pail during games, shot up as if he'd just been goosed.
"Did you see how far out I went?" Chiasson said after, grinning. "I'm thinking, 'he's out.' I even made the punch-out sign for the umpire."
Laconico, a junior playing center field for Ledyard High School, sent his team to the Class M state baseball semifinals with what will become an iconic play in program history. He threw out Lewis Mills baserunner Devin Shaffer at third base for the game's final out, preserving a 3-2 win.
Ledyard, the 18th seed, is last team from the Eastern Connecticut Conference standing. The Colonels will play No. 3 Wolcott, a 9-3 winner over No. 6 Bacon Academy, in the semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
Laconico, who also had two hits and scored a run, said he remembered a similar play from the ECC tournament. And learned from it.
"We were playing East Lyme and my friend Chris Malcom tagged and I didn't get him," Laconico said. "I tried to get behind the ball more this time."
Chiasson called Laconico "our defensive savior."
Then he paused and said, "at least in center field," alluding to the two errors Laconico made at shortstop before moving to the outfield later in the game.
Pat Bora got the final five outs for the Colonels in relief of starter Ken Turner, who reached his 110-pitch limit one out into the sixth.
Turner was quite economical on Tuesday with an 81-pitch complete game against Rockville (a 1-0 win). He struck out five and walked three Saturday, touching as high as 88 on the radar gun. Turner reached 92 earlier in the tournament.
"They got into a lot of deep counts and were fouling off a lot of pitches," Turner said.
"It was disconcerting knowing that Kenny probably wasn't going to be able to finish," Chiasson said. "We've ridden him so long. But Pat's been automatic. He throws strikes."
Ledyard (16-10) rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the fourth. A wild pitch scored Ethan Jarry before Cade Walters' sacrifice fly produced Laconico. Turner, Bora and Laconico did it from there.
Mills pitcher Kyle Alvarez allowed but three hits and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the seventh.
But the lost opportunity became a duller ache when Laconico made The Throw.
"I feel like we were counted out a little bit this season," Turner said. "We thought we had a pretty good team. It feels really good to be the last team from the ECC still standing."
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