Canton Little League gets the bats going to earn first-ever state tournament win

Canton manager Chris LaPointe looks to celebrate with Andrew Coates, whose three-run home run in the third inning put Canton in command of their 8-2 state tournament win over Prospect Thursday night.

PLYMOUTH, July 20 – It about an inning or so for the Canton Little League baseball team to begin to feel comfortable in Thursday night’s state tournament game against District 4 champion Prospect.

All Canton needed was a few sharp hits. Canton had three extra-base hits in the second inning to take their first lead of the game and had four hits more in the third inning, including a three-run home run from Andrew Coates to lead Canton to an 8-2 win over Prospect in a Section II contest.

Not only did Canton (7-1, 1-0 Section II) secure a spot in the Section II final against District 5 champion Wallingford on Saturday night but Canton also won the first Major Division (ages 11-12) state tournament game in the program’s long history dating back to 1952.

Prospect (4-2, 0-2 Section II) lost to Wallingford, 17-13 on Wednesday night and finishes 0-2 in the three-game regional event. The top two teams advance to the championship game on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Canton and Wallingford (6-1, 1-0 Section II) will play Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the final contest of the round robin portion of the Section II tournament. Both managers will be maneuvering their pitching staffs to be ready for Saturday’s title game. The Section II winner joins the four-team, double-elimination portion of the tournament beginning July 28 in Guilford.

Canton catcher Jack Biskupiak safely slides into third base, eluding the attempted tag of Prospect’s Ryan Donnelly.

“It took us about an inning to settle down,” Canton manager Chris LaPointe said. “They hit the ball well against a good pitcher, took advantage of some of their mistakes and puts some runs up on the board.”

It was a shaky start for Canton, the District 6 champion. Troy Mastropietro reached on an error when an outfielder dropped a fly ball. He moved to third base on a passed ball and scored on a RBI single from Tyler Giambra for a 1-0 lead. Prospect’s Hunter Simpson followed with a single off Canton starter Devin Brown before Brown retired the next three batters.

Canton went down in order in the first inning with two strikeouts. In the second, Prospect had the bases loaded with two outs. Brown actually struck out Prospect’s Tyler Giambra but the ball got away from Canton catcher Jack Biskupiak and Giambra reached first base to load the bases.

But Brown was able to fan Simpson to allow Canton to escape the jam. Brown had four of his game-high eight strikeouts in the second inning.

Devin Brown celebrates with manager Chris LaPointe as he goes into score on Andrew Coates’ home run in the third inning.

Canton started swinging the lumber in the bottom of the second inning. Andrew Coates led off with a triple down the left field line and scored on Shane LaPointe’s infield ground ball to tie the game at 1-1. With two outs in the inning, Carson Sklenka doubled into center field and scored on Robby Dlubac’s RBI double to give Canton a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth inning, Canton batted through the order, scoring six runs on four hits. They also took advantage of four Prospect errors to take a commanding 8-1 lead.

Andrew Cappabianca led off the fourth inning with a single and moved to third base when Luke Maher reached on an error. Cappiabianca scored when Brown reached on an error to give Canton a 3-1 lead. Coates belted a three-run home run over the center field fence for a 7-1 advantage. One more run scored on Sammy Lincoln’s RBI single.

It was Coates’ fourth home run of the summer and the 11th home run that Canton has popped over the fence in eight games.

Justin DiCarlo worked out of a fifth inning, bases-loaded jam to keep Canton ahead in Thursday night’s state tournament game in Plymouth.

That gave Canton some breathing room although Prospect wouldn’t go away. Prospect loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning off reliever Justin DiCarlo, who walked three consecutive batters.

But Prospect’s Ryan Donnelly lofted a shallow ball into the air that Lincoln, the Canton shortstop, just plucked the ball out of the air before it hit the ground. Then, he raced to second base to tag out the runner for the double play. Another high infield fly to Lincoln ended the inning and the threat.

On the mound, Brown picked up his fifth win of the season and allowed just four hits over 3 1/3 innings. Coates was 2-for-3 with a triple, home run and three RBI while Dlubac was 1-for-2 with a RBI double.

“This was definitely a nice win,” LaPointe said. “They feel good. They can hang with anyone if they play their best ball and they’re doing that right now. They want to win and they love to represent Canton.”

NOTES: It was the first state tournament win in five games for the program in the Major Division (ages 11-12) — the most famous and recognizable division in Little League baseball. In single-elimination tournaments, Canton lost the opening game in 1952 and 1977. In 1988, Canton dropped their first two games in a double-elimination tournament. … It was the first extra-base hits in the tournament for Canton’s Carson Sklenka and Robby Dlubac, who both hit doubles Thursday night. … This Canton team won seven games a year ago including the District 6 title and one state tournament game in the Minor Division (ages 10-11).

Canton 8, Prospect 2
At Plymouth
Prospect (4-2)                       100  010  — 2-5-4
Canton (7-1)                         026  00x  –  8-8-3
Troy Masterpietro and Hunter Simpson; Devin Brown, Justin DiCarlo (4), Andrew Coates (6) and Jack Biskupiak; WP: Brown (5-0); LP: Masterpierto; 2B: Carson Sklenka (C), Robby Dlubac (C); 3B: Andrew Coates (C); HR: Coates (C)

2017 Little League baseball
Connecticut state tournament
Major Division (ages 11-12)

Section I
Wednesday, July 19
Fairfield American (D2) 6, Ridgefield (D1) 2
Thursday, July 20
North Branford (D4) vs. Ridgefield
Friday, July 21
North Branford vs. Fairfield American at Orange, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 22
Final: Top two teams, 8 p.m. at Orange

Section II
At Terryville
Wednesday, July 19
Wallingford (D5) 17, Prospect (D3) 13
Thursday, July 20
Canton (D6) 8, Prospect 2
Friday, July 21
Canton vs. Wallingford, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 22
Final: Canton vs. Wallingford, 7 p.m.

Section III
At Waterford
Wednesday, July 19
Newington (D7) vs. Cromwell (D9), 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 20
Waterford (D10) vs. Newington
Friday, July 21
Waterford vs. Cromwell, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 22
Final: Top two teams, 5:30 p.m.

Section IV
At Killingly
Wednesday, July 19
Ellington (D8) 12, Willimantic (D11) 2
Thursday, July 20
Mansfield (D12) vs. Ellington
Friday, July 21
Mansfield vs. Willimantic, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 22
Final: Top two teams, 10 a.m.

2017 Little League State Championship 
At Guilford Adams Middle School
Friday, July 28
Game 1 – Sec. 1 champion vs. Sec. 2 champion, 5:30  p.m.
Game 2 — Sec. 3 champion vs. Sec. 4 champion, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 29
Game 3- Winner G1 v Winner G2 11:00 AM
Game 4- Loser G1 v Loser G2 2:00 PM
Sunday, July 30
Game 5- Loser G3 v Winner G4 11:00 AM
Monday, July 31
Game 6- Winner G5 v Winner G3 5:30 PM
Tuesday, August 1
Game 7- Winner G6 v Loser G6 5:30 PM If necessary

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