Montville - It had been over for a good 20 minutes Monday afternoon and still, nobody left the Montville High School dugout. Some sat, some stood. But all parties wore forlorn looks that illustrated the finality of the moment.
And the season.
Yes, the Indians, the two-time defending state Class M baseball champions and the 2012 tournament's top seed, watched a notable run end in the cold rain. No. 9 Haddam-Killingworth earned a 3-1 victory and a trip to the Class M semifinals.
H-K made its second trip to Montville in as many days, following Sunday's weather-related suspension. The Cougars held a 1-0 lead overnight, pushed across two in the top of the seventh to lead 3-0 and withstood Montville's late rally.
Pitcher Wes Nuhn recorded the final out on a line drive to center field, touching off a celebration.
"Our approach was they're the No. 1 team, they're the ones with three state championships and that meant all the pressure was on them," H-K coach Mark Brookes said. "They have the big, gaudy record and the championships. Let them sweat it out."
Brookes said maintaining Sunday's momentum was a concern, wondering whether so much time to think about the moment might lead to being swallowed by it.
"You're dealing with emotions of high school kids," Brookes said.
Turned out he had no worries until the Indians had the tying runs on in the seventh. But Nuhn, who threw 47 pitches Sunday, was there for his team again.
"We thought (the suspension) would be to our advantage, to be honest," Orbe said. "We thought they'd bring back (Nuhn). And that they had all the momentum on Sunday."
Instead, there will be a new champion in Class M.
"Any time you go in with very high expectations and you don't reach them, it's a little difficult," Orbe said, fighting back tears several times. "This group won a lot of games. They were 16-1 in the state tournament. It doesn't get too much better than that.
"We put ourselves in position to win this probably for the last 10 years," Orbe said. "I'd say the teams we've had in that time have been good enough to win. When you set expectations that high, there are going to be times when you come up short. To have people shooting for you every single time is not easy. But I couldn't be prouder of them."