Law comes through in the clutch to beat Waterford in Class M baseball quarters
Waterford — Upheaval from earlier last week in the Class M state baseball tournament — the elimination of many contenders — almost provided a sense of inevitability that 11-time state champion Waterford would be taking a swing at No. 12 next weekend at Palmer Field.
And then the Lancers learned all over again that steep the degree of difficulty tethered to winning a state championship.
"It ain't easy in baseball, man," Waterford coach Art Peluso said succinctly and accurately late Saturday afternoon, not long after his team's season was over.
"You need good players, some luck and a lot of other things going in your direction," said Peluso, responsible for two of the 11 banners hanging on the outfield fence at Alumni Field.
Peluso just watched 19th-seeded Jonathan Law pound its way to an 8-1 victory over his No. 11 Lancers in the quarterfinals.
Law (15-8) scored all eight runs with two outs and six of its eight runs with two strikes.
"That stuff was happening to us earlier in the year," Peluso said, alluding to the inability to finish an inning, "and it happened again today."
Losing pitcher Jack Lathrop came agonizingly close to ending the top of the fourth with the game tied at 1. His 1-2 pitch to Law centerfielder John Neider barely missed, extending the at bat until Neider snapped the 1-1 tie with an RBI single. Mike Cosmas followed with an RBI single to make it 3-1.
Law removed any further drama with a five-run fifth, capped by Neider's three-run homer to left, giving his team an 8-1 lead.
"If we get out of that inning 1-1, then who knows?" Peluso said. "But you have to let that stuff go. Give Law credit. They hit the ball with two strikes and two outs all day."
Waterford, which finishes 17-9, never solved Law starter Jaden Wywoda, who no-hit No. 14 Norwich Tech four days earlier. Brian Ingraham's RBI single produced the only run in the third, scoring Anthony Jessuck.
"The kids did everything we asked them to do this year," Peluso said. "They had some adversity and they overcame it. They always competed. I'm proud of them. They were a great group to be around."
Law plays No. 7 Woodland Regional, a 7-2 winner over No. 2 NW Regional, in the semifinals Tuesday.