2011 Year in Review. June 8. Wamogo season ends one game short in Class S baseball.
MUZZY FIELD, BRISTOL- On a warm, late spring night on a grand old field that has seen it’s share of classics, another unfolded when # 1 East Catholic faced off against # 4 Wamogo in the Class S semi-finals.
It took eleven innings to decide this latest version of a game folks will be talking about for a long time, but the top ranked Eagles found a way to get to the championship game with a 7-6 win over the fourth ranked Warriors.
Eagles catcher, Alex Fulco singled through a seven-man infield in the bottom of the eleventh to score the game winner.
2011 will go down as one that was filled with first's for this Wamogo team that won their first Berkshire League title in 49 years and won 19 games, also a new record for the school.
“We are no longer the laughingstock of the league or state,” manager Gregg Hunt said to his team afterwards, “You are the foundation of a now strong baseball program.”
The Warriors rode the hot bat of their backstop, Ted Gravel all night and the senior got things started with a bang with a long double to left center on the games third pitch.
He would score on first baseman Brendan Roden’s infield roller and the Warriors were up 1-0 but a disturbing trend would start when Roden was picked off first by Eagles starter Tucker Panciera, a lefty with a nice move.
Wamogo would lose another runner via the pickoff in the third when Lucas Fraher was caught leaning for the third out of the inning.
Not taking advantage of base runners had been a foreign notion with the Warriors this season; they had prided themselves on scoring those who reached base.
“Against Litchfield,” Hunt said, “We scored nine runs and left three on base. It’s something we work on all the time but tonight we left a month’s worth of runners on.”
15 opportunities went by the board Tuesday night and in a semi-final game against the top seed in your bracket, that will eventually come back to haunt you.
Gravel and Wamogo struck again in the second inning as the fourth seed kept the pressure on Panciera, who won nine games during the season, by plating two more runs.
With two out, second baseman Justin Binkowski sliced a single to right and moved to second on a catchers interference call, one of two against the Eagle's Tuesday night.
A walk to the number nine hitter, Doug Whipple loaded the bases for Gravel who looped a ball that evaded a diving East Catholic center fielder for a two-run double and a 3-0 lead.
On the hill, senior standout Mike Odenwaelder, who had pitched a boat load of innings over the past month, was gutting his way through the first two innings before the Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the third on a wild pitch and a ground at to pull back to within one at 3-2.
Not to be outdone, Gravel and the Warriors struck again in the top of the fourth for three more runs.
In his second chance in two innings with the bases loaded, Gravel appeared to hit a bases-clearing double down the third base line but the ball was called foul by the home plate umpire.
Not to worry, the senior simply lined the next pitch he saw about two feet to the right and down the line for a two-run double, his third and fourth ribbies of the game.
Odenwaelder would help himself with a RBI bloop single behind third and the lead was four at 6-2.
East Catholic did not remain the top team in Class S by not knowing how to come back and in the bottom of the sixth against a tiring Odenwaelder, they rallied for four runs to tie things at 6-6.
The momentum at this point had clearly shifted but a junior reliever from Wamogo, shut the door after the Eagles Kelvin Sims had slammed the game-tying double that drove in two runs.
Travis Tompkins took over for his senior teammate and got the next two batters to keep the Warriors in the game.
Tompkins would give up a lead-off single in the bottom of the seventh but then retired the next nine in a row.
For the Eagles, Tyler Aprea, who came in during the Wamogo three run fourth, would be just as good, throwing seven plus innings for the win.
Those chances Hunt talked about were there against Aprea. In the top of the eighth, the Warriors loaded the bases with two outs but Odenwaelder hit into a force play that barely got a hustling Gravel at second for the third out.
Tompkins also worked out of a tough jam in the bottom of the tenth when the Eagles seemed poised for a walk-off of some sort after putting the first two runners on with no outs.
As the Eagles attempted to sacrifice with Garrett Richardello at the plate, a base running blunder that would become too common place late in this game struck for the first time.
Richardello missed on the bunt attempt and when the runner on second strayed too far off the bag, Gravel nailed him with a throw in behind him for the inning deflating out.
In their half of the eleventh, Wamogo returned the base running mistakes not once but twice.
Sam Shurberg led off the frame with an infield single and moved to second when Brendan Roden was hit by the pitch.
With Lucas Fraher at the plate, pinch runner Ishmael Haimeri was caught of second when Fraher missed the bunt attempt.
On the next pitch, Roden was gunned down trying to steal second and the threat was over.
“We made way to many base running mistakes tonight,” Hunt said, “We can’t give away chances like we did. The little things we didn’t do right came back to bite us.”
That bite occurred in the bottom of the frame when the Eagles John Brownell reached on an infield single, stole second and went to third on a ground out to the right side.
Hunt then decided to walk the next two batters to load the bases, giving the Warriors a force at any base.
Wamogo brought their entire outfield in an attempt to cut off anything on the ground and it almost paid off.
Fulco’s game winner just eluded the seven man infield on the left side and the Eagles were moving on.
While a season ended one game too soon, this will go down in the Wamogo history books as the best baseball team in nearly have a century.
“We will be hanging a banner on our wall,” Hunt said, referring to the BL title, “You should be very proud.”