Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wolcott baseball has come together at the right time

Wolcott baseball head coach Tary Scott knew this year's team was different.
In fact, Scott knew the Eagles were special. It was about getting all of the pieces to run fluidly as one.
"I still say this is probably the best team I've had since I've been here," Scott said after Wolcott clinched the NVL Iron Division title at home against Woodland on May 14. "We've just got to come together."
Wolcott baseball has come together at the right time, and the result is its first trip to a state final.
The Eagles have come together at the right time. Combining strong hitting with the terrific pitching of senior co-captain Ike Negretti, Wolcott has made it all the way to the first state final in program history. And oh yeah, this team has played flawless defense in the last two games.
The Eagles, seeded eighth, face No. 14 Northwestern Regional on Friday night at 7 o'clock at Palmer Field in Middletown for the Class M championship.
Before the amazing run to the state final, Wolcott endured some tough times. The Eagles were 14-6 in the regular season and went into the NVL Tournament as the No. 6 seed. Wolcott took down No. 3 St. Paul in a close quarterfinal game, and it appeared the Eagles were on their way to the final, up 8-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning in the semifinal game against No. 2 Holy Cross.
Unfortunately for Wolcott, or maybe fortunately, the wheels came off that late afternoon at Naugatuck High School. Holy Cross, which had rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game earlier, scored four times in the seventh to pull out a stunning 9-8 victory.
After that Woodland win on May 14, Scott said this:

"It's been that one mental lapse. If we put seven innings together, we'll be tough."

Wolcott had to claw its way past both No. 25 Bacon Academy and No. 9 Ellington at home in the first two rounds of Class M, but those games showed the team has a toughness to win close games. That asset is always important in the grind that is the state tournament.
After the first inning of last Saturday's quarterfinal at No. 1 Waterford, something seemed to click for Wolcott. The Eagles trailed 2-0 after one inning of play, but responded with three runs of their own in the top of the third to grab the lead for good.
Jeff Nichol was hit by a pitch leading off, then Steve Urbanski lowered the boom on a Waterford offering for a two-run home run and a 2-2 tie. A Nick Longo RBI single later in the inning made the score 3-2 Eagles.
In the top of the fifth, Wolcott picked up some insurance runs for Negretti. Warren led off the inning with a solo homer for a 4-2 lead, then Eric Gillotti added a sac fly later in the frame for the 5-2 advantage that wound up being the final score.
In the semifinal against Haddam-Killingworth at Zipadelli Field in Berlin, Wolcott put the game away early. Warren was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the first, then Ray Bartoli walked. Jacob Gabriel lined a two-run double for a quick 2-0 lead, then Longo followed with a single. Gillotti smacked a RBI double, then Bobby White singled for a 4-0 advantage. 
Wolcott senior co-captain Ike Negretti has been the leader on the mound in the state tournament.
Four runs with Negretti on the mound is a recipe for success, but Wolcott wasn't done. Gillotti had a RBI groundout for a 5-0 lead in the third. Two more runs in the fifth made it 7-1, another in the sixth ran the advantage to 8-1, and two more runs in the seventh finished it off at 10-1.
Negretti gave up a single in the seventh, but struck out the other three batters he faced, the last one setting off a great celebration that could be heard on Boundline Road back in Wolcott.
The Wolcott baseball team has come together, and it couldn't have picked a better time to do so.

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