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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Long day’s journey into fright for the Vikings; Woodstock takes ECC DI title

    East Lyme’ High School’s A.J. Montejano (22) slides safely into home plate during the ECC Division I tournament baseball final against Woodstock Academy on Friday at Dodd Stadium. top-seeded Woodstock scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to edge East Lyme for the title 8-7. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    East Lyme’s Dylan Joyce pitches Friday against Woodstock Academy during the ECC Division I baseball final at Dodd Stadium. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Norwich — All that was required from East Lyme during the duration of Friday:

    Defeat two teams it hadn’t beaten all season. Do so with first-pitch times five hours apart, playing the semifinals and championship game in 80-plus degree weather. Survive a blown 6-0 lead in the title game. Protect a one-run lead in the last of the seventh.

    At some point, it became excessive for the Vikings, who came within one strike of the 2024 Division I Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament baseball title. But the best team in the league all season, Woodstock Academy, rallied from the aforementioned deficit and edged East Lyme 8-7 at Dodd Stadium.

    “A long day of baseball,” East Lyme coach Jack Biggs said. “But it was a long day for Woodstock, too.”

    In the end, Woodstock’s Noah Sampson, down to his team’s final strike, doubled home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh before Eric Mathewson won it with an RBI single.

    Mathewson, named the game’s Most Valuable Player, also pitched five innings of one-run relief, keeping the Centaurs (21-2, ranked No. 1 in next week’s Class L tournament) breathing despite the 6-0 deficit.

    “I tried to do my best,” Mathewson said, before getting the water bucket treatment during a live postgame interview on GameDay. “I had faith in my guys.”

    This was Woodstock’s third straight appearance in the title game and its first win.

    “Jeez,” Woodstock coach (and East Lyme graduate) Conor Elliott said, “this is the third time in a row we got here. It's about time we won one.”

    East Lyme led 6-4 into the sixth behind starter Dylan Joyce, who yielded to his brother, Liam, two outs into the inning with two on. Liam Joyce was victimized by one of East Lyme’s five errors that would have ended the inning before surrendering a game-tying two-run single to Keon LaMarche.

    But the Vikings rallied with two outs and nobody on in the seventh. Tanner O’Brien singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Dylan Joyce’s RBI single.

    “At 6-0, we took our foot of the gas,” Biggs said. “We left the bases loaded (in the third) and just didn’t have many good at-bats.”

    East Lyme advanced with a 7-3 win over Killingly in the semifinals. Aidan Cochrane was the winning pitcher, helped along by Alex Dreyfus’ impressive homer to deep right.

    “It was a tough way to end, but I really think the guys showed some character,” Biggs said. “We can build on this going into next week.”

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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