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    Wednesday, September 27, 2023

    Fitch baseball team getting hot at the right time

    Norwich — It might even qualify as a Yogi-ism: You’re the champs until you’re not. And the defending champions of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Baseball Tournament, despite some early season defects, look very much like Fitch High usually does at this time of year.

    The Falcons, who began the season 1-5, are 12-4 since. They’ve outscored their first two ECC Tournament opponents 33-6 thus far, moving to the semifinals Wednesday with a 10-1 win over Wheeler at Dodd Stadium. The Falcons will play No. 1 Woodstock in the semifinal on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

    “We’ve been pretty hot, the hottest we’ve been,” said junior Trace Morales, who pitched a complete game six-hitter. “We believe in our team.”

    The 1-5 start, which included getting walked off in Berlin because of a balk call, has turned into wisdom for the pain.

    “At the beginning when we were 1-5, we were telling the kids that we didn’t really want to be playing our best baseball at that time of year anyway,” Fitch coach Dave Hall said. “We’ve been telling them to trust the process. I think the guys have their confidence back.”

    After throttling Plainfield in the qualifying round, the Falcons dropped six on Wheeler (14-7) in the first inning. Jack Ballou, Dom Zuliani, Luca Ursini and Isaac Frank produced run-scoring hits, which didn’t necessarily ring the old Exit Velo Meter, but were effective nonetheless.

    Morales struck out five and walked one.

    “I admit, it was pretty difficult early,” Morales said. “Definitely a drain on the mental side. But being able to compete here the way we are is a good way to go into the states.”

    Fitch added four more runs in the seventh, highlighted by consecutive doubles from Ballou and Isaiah Anderson and two-run single from Ursini. Frank, Donte Valentine, Ballou, Anderson and Ursini had two hits apiece.

    Garrett Lenihan scored a run on a fielder’s choice for Wheeler, whose loss turned the night quarterfinal between St. Bernard and Lyman into the Division IV championship game because of league tiebreakers.

    “This is about gaining momentum into the state tournament,” Hall said. “I think a lot of the struggles we had toughened us up.”

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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