Middletown - Runner on second, two outs, second inning. And Zack Wolfgang, the Fitch High School catcher, hit a harmless fly ball to shallow right, eliciting the same groan from the Fitch faithful as loudly as it allowed RHAM of Hebron loyalists to exhale.
And then nothing you could ever script, let alone expect, became Step One toward delivering the Falcons to their first state championship baseball game since 2005.
RHAM right fielder Matt Sylvia dropped the ball, much to the astonishment of all gathered at Palmer Field. It allowed Ollie Auerbach to score the only run Fitch starter Jon Mewha needed.
The third-seeded Falcons (23-4) earned a 1-0 win in the Class L semifinals and will play No. 24 New Canaan in the finals on Saturday at noon at Palmer Field.
"Crazy game," Wolfgang said of what will become perhaps the most iconic pop fly in program history. "By the time I got to first base, I was ecstatic."
And so are the people of Groton and Mystic. They can revel in the baseball program's bid at a fourth state championship as much as the New Canaanites can appreciate the mere opportunity. This is New Canaan's first championship game in 40 years.
"This team is like no other I've ever coached," Fitch coach Marc Peluso said. "They deserve a chance to play for a state championship. That's why I want them to win it so badly."
Fitch could certainly site some good fortune on Wolfgang's pop up as Reason No. 1 for its happy bus ride home. But there's also Reason 1-A that the Falcons get to take a swing at history: Winning pitcher Jon Mewha. It would be an exaggeration to suggest he didn't yield a single hard hit ball. Just not much of an exaggeration.
Mewha pitched a three-hitter with nine strikeouts - five straight at one point. Even when he walked a batter in the seventh, his defense ended the game with a 6-4-3 double play, Aaron Hill to Auerbach to Al Jordan Johnson.
Mewha, who admitted it was the biggest start of his life, remained quite stoic after the game.
"But I'm happy, trust me," Mewha said.
Wolfgang, who caught Mewha, said, "his change and his curve tonight were great. Sometimes, we butt heads. But he kept putting the ball where I wanted it."
Fitch had an opportunity to make Mewha's night more comfortable in the third inning, but its scoring opportunity ended with an argument. With two on and two out, Jordan Johnson hit a grounder to short. The throw to first bounced, forcing RHAM first baseman Baylor LaPointe to tag him. LaPointe dropped the ball, but first base umpire Rodney Dixon ruled Jordan Johnson out nonetheless. Peluso and first base coach Brian McGugan argued the ball and lost.
"He ruled the ball came out after the tag," McGugan said.
Turned out Mewha had all the runs he needed before that.
"He's not overpowering," Peluso said, "but man, he knows how to pitch."