New London Babe Ruth 15s will play for NE title on Wednesday
Trumbull — A week ago, they sat inside the Elks Club in New London, mixing the hope and wonder of an upcoming tournament with a pasta dinner/fundraiser, pondering plenty of unknowns in the Babe Ruth 15 New England Tournament.
Who would the kids from New London play? Would the competition be really good? Heck — how did anyone really know if New London was any good?
The answers have been rowdy and roaring all week. Are they any good? You don't get to play for a berth in the World Series if you're not.
And that's where New London sits today. One win away from the World Series, following a 12-2 stroll over Braintree, Mass. in a semifinal game Tuesday at Trumbull High School shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
Trumbull eliminated New Hampshire champion Lamprey River, 9-0, in the second semifinal.
"As a coach, of course you have expectations for your team," New London coach Derrel Mitchell said. "But also, when the entire field is a bunch of state champions, you know how good they are. It was hard to tell what to expect."
New London has outscored the competition 41-15 thus far.
Mitchell's team used a familiar formula to make Wednesday's (10 a.m.) championship game: start ace Derrel Mitchell (the coach's son) and build an early lead big enough to remove him with a modest pitch count, enabling New London to use him in the finals if necessary.
Mitchell left with an 8-0 lead in the third inning.
"I think the kids play the most calm when he's pitching," Mitchell said.
Ralphie Sanchez had three hits (two doubles) and three RBI to lead an offense that nearly scored in every inning.
"The kids are staying at the same hotel (as Braintree) and a couple of (the Braintree) players said they were saving their ace for Trumbull (in the presumptive championship game)," Mitchell said. "Then after the anthem (Tuesday),we always tip our caps to the opposition as a sign of respect. They turned their back on us. We like ammunition like that."
Clearly. New London led 4-0 after two innings, using RBI hits from Sanchez, Mitchell and Sid Bulusu. They made it 8-0 an inning later when pinch runner (and later relief pitcher) Ethan Chavez stole third base and scored on a throwing error. Later, Sanchez's RBI double scored Landen Hill before Chris Tonucci cleared the bases with a two-run double.
Hill later hit a two-run single in the fourth. Mitchell's RBI single in the fifth gave New London a 10-run lead and allowed tournament officials to invoke the mercy rule.
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