BRISTOL, June 8 – For three innings, the Canton High baseball team was in control of its Class S semifinal game with No. 1 Cromwell at Muzzy Field. Senior pitcher Travis Lane had his way with the Panthers striking out five and not allowing a hit.
The Warriors had five hits and two stolen bases. But its lead was precarious. Canton managed just two runs and stranded five runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the first inning.
Cromwell (20-4) rapped out five hits and scored five runs in the fifth inning to break open a one-run ballgame and eliminate the Warriors (18-5) from the Class S tournament with a 6-2 victory.
And Cromwell hurler David Grande got stronger as the game progressed. After allowing six hits and two runs in the first four innings, he gave up just one hit and struck out five in the final three innings.
After finishing second to Ellington in the regular season, the Warriors won the NCCC Tournament for the first time with an eight-inning win over Avon and a victory over Ellington in the title game. A pair of one-run decisions in the Class S tournament over Coventry, 2-1, and Coginchaug, 7-6, put Canton in the semifinals for the first time since 2005.
“We played hard all year,” catcher Tyler Plourd said. “We won a lot of games that way.” Plourd, Lane, Brian Magna and Kyle Beattie have been playing on the varsity for four years. Plourd has caught every inning the last four years and is a two-time All-NCCC player. Lane went 8-1 this year and earned All-State honors. Magna earned All-State honors in cross country and indoor track earlier this year.
“It’s been a great four years,” Canton coach Brian Roy said. “These kids have been unbelievable.”
Many of these players have been playing baseball together for years in the spring, summer and sometimes the fall. “They work hard every day,” Roy said. “The unity has been unbelievable.”
The game started well against Cromwell. Lane had his way against the Panthers in the first three innings. However, Canton couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities against Grande.
Nick Quattro ripped a one-out double in the first inning and scored on Lane’s two-out RBI single to centerfield. A single from Austin Bronson and a walk to Plourd loaded the bases but Grande got Aras Banevicius to fly out to right field to end the threat.
In the third inning, Canton made it 2-0. Beattie led off the inning with a walk, stole second base and scored on Plourd’s two-out single to right field. But Plourd was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.
In the fourth inning, Banevicius led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a successful sacrifice bunt by Tyler Detorie. But that was it. Grande got the next two batters to ground out and end the inning. From this point, Canton had just one hit remaining.
Cromwell cut the lead to a single run in the fourth. Grande led off the inning with a single, stole second base and scored on an RBI single from Bobby Jordan. In the fifth, Steve Radziewicz coaxed a leadoff walk and moved to second on a one-out single from Dan Smith. Both moved up one base on a passed ball.
Leadoff hitter Chris Edelbaum ripped a shot that deflected off Banevicius at third base, allowing Radziewicz to tie the game at 2-2. Grande followed with a dribbler that just went up the third base line, scoring Smith. Jordan broke the game open with a two-RBI double to left field for a 5-2 lead.