Harwinton-Burlington wins Torrington Babe Ruth Minors Championship
A late-season loss ended Harwinton/Burlington's unbeaten season, but it didn't end their dreams of a championship.
Harwinton-Burlington rebounded from a loss in its last regular season game to win a pair of playoff games and capture the Torrington Babe Ruth Minors Championship with a hardfought win over New Hartford.
The members of the championship team were Gavin LaPenta, Gavin Doyle, Connor Meissner, Tim Mazerolle, Cam,Baiardi, Jarrod Correll, Henry Cooper, Griffin Ursin, Bill Willett, Jacob Lyga, Tom Comerford, Skylar Woodin, Jim Romano, Andrew Madden and Chris Romano. Jim Baiardi and Bill Willett served as co-managers and Tom Madden and Lev Cooper were the assistant coaches.
The league consisted of teams made up of players aged 13 and 14 from Winsted, Torrington, Watertown, Terryville, New Hartford and Harwinton/Burlington. The Harwinton/Burlington club started the season 14-0, then lost its last game of the regular season season to New Hartford.
"I truly thought the loss was perfect. With winning comes a little cockiness," Harwinton/Burlington co-manager Jim Baiardi said. "I wanted to see if the team really wanted it, and Friday night we came out a little flat against Terryville in the second round of the playoffs, but battled back and won that game. I could tell Saturday during the game against New Hartford they really did want it. They would not give up throughout the whole game."
The championship game was a nail-biter and gave Harwinton/Burlington a chance to avenge its only loss. LaPenta came through with the game-winning hit with two outs bottom of the 10th inning scoring Ursin for the win. Tom Comerford and Billy Willet both pitched well for the winners with Willet pitching the last 4 2/3 innings and not allowing any runs.
Baiardi credited a total team effort for the win while New Hartford had incredible performances from Jayson Reola on the mound and Shortstop Cameron Wilhelm.
"I have to tell you with all youth baseball I've been around, this was just an incredible game," Baiardi said. "It was one of those games you really didn't want to see either team lose. Our kids really wanted it and that team from New Hartford was just as tough and those kids and coaches wanted it also."
Harwinton/Burlington's team effort was nothing new. The roster was comprised of 15 players who were all called on to contribute throughout the season and each one of them took turns stepping up as the team ripped off 14 straight wins to start the season.
"We did our best to get everybody playing time and everybody got a minimum of four innings each game," Baiardi said. "I think that did a lot to help team morale. Everybody knew they were contributing and they all wanted to make sure they did their best in the championship game."