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Waterford 14s claim state title

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published July 24. 2013 4:00AM

Ridgefield - Waterford endured two weather-related delays on Tuesday.

Both times, Waterford provided the thunder and lightning once play resumed.

Two big offensive outbursts helped power the District 6 champions to an 11-3 win over Stamford and the Connecticut Babe Ruth 14-year-old state championship.

Waterford remained focused during the breaks.

"We knew we were here to play and we were focused on that," winning pitcher Mitchell Clapsadle said. "Some of the players on the other team were fooling around. They were doing piggybacks and we were sitting in the dugout getting loose."

Waterford won three straight games to reach the championship round while Stamford emerged out of the losers' bracket, beating Milford, 9-8, earlier Tuesday to complete Monday's suspended game at Governor's Park.

It was the Waterford Babe Ruth program's 11th state title, counting all three age groups (13, 14 and 15).

"These guys have been tremendous," Waterford manager Ed Pinch said. "I just thanked them for their effort. They play hard."

Not wanting to take the long trip back to Ridgefield for a deciding game today, Waterford broke the game open with five runs in the second and four in the third to take a 9-1 advantage.

Both rallies followed weather-related delays.

After rain briefly halted the game before the bottom of the second, Waterford came out and loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Justin Keating and Ben Pickowitz belted long back-to-back two-run doubles. Mike Rocchetti's sacrifice fly increased the lead to 5-0.

"We got right back into it," Pinch said. "They knew this was a big game."

The umpires stopped play again after Stamford's Bismal Almanzar slipped rounding first base after hitting a leadoff single. The grounds crew came out to work on the infield. Then two lightning sightings added more time to the long delay.

When play finally resumed, Clapsadle allowed a run before settling down, retiring two straight with runners on second and third.

Waterford's bats remained hot. Chase Speller (double), Dan Castelpoggi (RBI triple) and Alex Petchark (RBI double) each ripped extra bases hits to open the bottom of the third. Keating's RBI single and Rocchetti's run-scoring groundout capped the four-run outburst.

Two more runs in the fourth on Clapsadle's bases-loaded walk and Steven Gerovitz's sacrifice fly pushed Waterford ahead 11-1. Stamford scored twice in the fifth to close out the scoring.

Six of Waterford's 10 hits went for extra bases. In the previous meeting between the two teams on Sunday, Waterford posted a 14-1 win.

"The last two games these guys have hit the cover off the ball, both times against this Stamford team," Pinch said. "When they swing like that, my job is easy."

Pinch also praised Clapsadle, who pitched his second complete game of the touranment. Clapsadle got in trouble a few times, allowing nine hits overall, but always limited the damage.

"Having the lead kept me focused," Clapsadle said.

Waterford advances to the New England tournament in Westfield, Mass. Play opens on Friday.

"We're looking forward to the New Englands," Pinch said. Give all the credit to these kids. I just put them out there and stay out of the way."

g.keefe@theday.com

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