Bullard-Havens, champions of the Constitution State Conference for the first time, needed three wins in three days to take the title. I got to see the last two, and I watched them play almost flawless baseball for 14 innings. These last seven included one brilliant pitching performance (well, I shouldn’t leave out Cheney Tech’s, but we’ll get to them), lots of good defense and, for the second day in a row, perfect execution on bunts.
We talked a little about that last part after the game, and it’s in the story, but it’s worth mentioning again. Though Cheney only gave up three hits, the Tigers made them count, moving Angel Rosario along three times by bunt.
Nick Moreira only needed one of those runs. “My curve was working all right,” the senior pitcher said. “My fastball wasn’t really perfect, but I was getting it by them. Everything went well.” Um, yeah. If not for the Tigers’ lone error, he’d have retired the last 20 batters to face him.
As it was, he retired the last… one. And what a “one” it was. A looping fly ball down the line in the gloaming. At its peak, it had floated just above the coverage that the lights provided. Not an easy play, but Abnel Martinez found it, caught it as he started his dive, and ended things. “The defense has been phenomenal the whole season,” Moreira said. “The offense has been working. We’re clicking as a team.”
Cheney was solid as well, and they’re young enough that they’ll be dangerous in the future. Junior Mike Musumeci — “a little amped,” Cheney Tech coach Gary Marineau said — went three, and sophomore Merlyn Herrera followed and pitched well, and Marineau pointed out toward center and another pitcher, freshman Tim Cate. Future’s bright in Manchester. Not that it’s not bright in the more immediate future, where both teams will be high seeds.
Cheney first baseman Ricky Brown, one of only three seniors on that side, grounded a ball between third and short in the second inning. I was more interested in the nice play Joey Nguyen made, going to his left to pick it up and fire to first. And that’s when it became obvious that the play was easier than it’d looked: Brown never got out of the box, dislocating his right kneecap on the swing, down on the ground in agony. The trainer got it back in place, but it’s a painful injury. (And yes, as you may imagine if you follow me October-April, my first thought on hearing the diagnosis was “Kevin Poulin.” And yes, my second thought was along the lines of “ow ow ow ow ow ow.”)
Stuff you overhear in press boxes and never knew: Part of the Willow Brook Park complex is actually in Berlin. I assume Berlin isn’t responsible for the condition of the bleachers at Beehive Field, but it’s remarkable how much of the grandstand at Beehive is roped off. A shame.
Not a shame: the old-school pencil sharpener mounted on the press-box wall. Pretty awesome. Rip up those bleachers, but leave that.