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Little Leaguers chasing the dream in Harwinton

POSTED July 19, 2013
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

HARWINTON - Clutch hits, great defensive plays, shut-down pitching and high-level play. There's been a little bit of everything for area baseball fans the last two days at the Harwinton Recreation Complex and the highlights have been provided by players too young to shave.

Harwinton is hosting one of the two sectionals for the state Little League tournament. Winners from Districts 6 through 11 are in town for the 2013 LL Baseball Section 2 tournament with the winner taking another step toward Williamsport for the Little League World Series.

That dream is a few miles away and every team here is focused on winning and moving on to the next game but the players are also harboring dreams of joining former big leaguers like Jason Varitek, Gary Sheffield, Dwight Gooden and Boog Powell and playing in Little League baseball's showcase event.

The LLWS is an event that has become a part of summer every August and captivates sports fans from all over. Whether or not any of the teams in Harwinton makes it that far remains to be seen, but the teams have been putting on a show the first two days.

The eventual winner from the six-team, double-elimination event will meet the winner of Section 1 in a best of three state title series. The winner there goes to Bristol for the New England Regional where they will be playing for a spot in the LLWS and a trip to Williamsport.

So the Sectional is a big deal as far as Little League baseball goes and Harwinton is happy to be a part of it.

"This is a great event for the town and we are thrilled to be hosting it," HYSA VP of Baseball Jim Baiardi said. "We've been pushing for something like this for a few years. We feel like we have a great facility and now we get to show it off to teams from around the state."

Wethersfield, South Windsor, Coginchaug, Waterford, Burlington and Sprague/Franklin/Canterbury are all in Harwinton vying for a spot to the state finals and so far there have been a number of exciting games. South Windsor is off to a 2-0 start after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Burlington on Thursday night. Waterford won its opener, holding on to beat Wethersfield, 8-7, after opening up an 8-1 lead.

"We've seen some high-level baseball the last couple days," said HYSA scorekeeper Greg Martinotti. "We've seen some hard hits and some nice defensive plays, a little bit of everything and some well-played games."

The games have had a little bit of everything so far. Home runs, Wethersfield and Waterford combined to hit four, and good pitching as South Windsor scored its first run in the win over Burlington when a batter reached base after striking out and advanced around the bases on a few passed balls. Waterford even turned an around the horn 5-4-3 double play to escape a jam Wednesday night much to the delight of a pretty sizable rooting section that made the trip.

The play has been at a high level, the games have been tight and tense and best of all it’s been baseball as it should be, played hard, played fair and then on to the next game. All six teams still have their dreams alive entering Friday and while only one team will leave town happy and with its dream intact, every team has shown that they are winners and how they got here.

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