Tops St. Bernard 5-2 in quarterfinals
Norwich — Nobody wearing maroon and white Thursday night needed grief counseling at the thought of their rival's unexpected exit from earlier in the day. But if nothing else, East Lyme High School began defense of its Eastern Connecticut Conference baseball tournament championship wary of that ancient sports maxim that begins with "you never know."
Coach Jack Biggs was issuing reminders to his players that if Lyman Memorial could oust Waterford, paying attention to detail would be recommended if the Vikings want to win their third straight title.
East Lyme did so, eliminating St. Bernard, 5-2, setting up today's extravaganza at Dodd Stadium. Lyman meets Fitch in the first semifinal at 1 before East Lyme plays two-time defending state Class M champion Montville at 4. The winners play at 7 for the title.
"We were taking batting practice and we heard about Waterford," junior third baseman Ben Ostrowski said, not long after hitting a huge, two-out, two-run single. "Coach Biggs told us right there not to take anything for granted. We almost did last year in the quarterfinals and had to beat Griswold at the end. We didn't want to fall into that trap."
Biggs knew the Vikings would be without starting first baseman Matt Binaco (concussion) and right fielder Justin Briasco (college orientation). Fortunately, however, pitcher Pete Gonski was plenty good enough, even on what he considered an "off" night.
Gonski worked into the sixth and allowed two runs. Cole Tretter worked out of a jam in the sixth and pitched a scoreless seventh.
Zach Kane's bases-loaded walk preceded Ostrowski's two-run single during a three-run fourth inning off losing pitcher Izzy Davila.
East Lyme took a 2-1 lead in the third on a wild pitch and Ed Lorah's sacrifice fly.
"I told the kids they didn't have to be perfect," Biggs said, "they just have to figure out a way to survive."
And perhaps today plot a little revenge, too. Montville rallied for four runs in the seventh to beat East Lyme earlier this month.
"They're a very good hitting team, good pitching and well coached," Biggs said.
But the Indians haven't won this tournament the last two years.
"We're seeded fourth," Ostrowski said. "But going in we feel like we have enough returning players that give us a good chance to win this again. We want that three-peat."