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Simsbury stuns Wallingford to win first CCBL championship

Simsbury beat Wallingford, 2-0 on Friday night to win their first-ever Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League championship.

WALLINGFORD, August 3 – The Simsbury Sabercats won as many games in the Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League’s postseason as they did in the regular season.

Simsbury won just four games this summer in the CCBL, going 4-16-1. But everyone gets an invitation to the post-season tournament. The Sabercats upset top-seeded Glastonbury in the semifinals, winning a best-of-three series, 2-1.

And in a one-game championship final, Simsbury outlasted No. 2 seed Wallingford, 2-0 Friday night to win their first-ever CCBL championship.

“This was quite a surprise,” Simsbury’s fourth-year coach Edward Lavoie said. “They all pulled it together at the right time. We were always competitive but we found find new ways to lose (games). We would hit the ball hard but it would be right at someone.”

Simsbury (8-17-1) was making their first appearance in championship finals since 2012. Wallingford, which finished second in the league with a 14-7 record, was making their first CCBL final appearance.

The final was scheduled to be a best-of-three but game one was rained out Wednesday and Thursday night. With rain forecast for all day on Saturday and several players on both teams scheduled to depart on Sunday, both teams agreed to a one-game playoff.

Simsbury took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Chadd Richarson’s two-out, two-run double to right centerfield. Richardson is from Bristol and plays at Worcester State.

That was more than enough for Simsbury starting pitcher Andrew Fogarty (Mystic/Western Connecticut State) and reliever Noah Cruz (Bristol/Trinity College). Fogarty gave up two hits in five innings. Cruz pitched two innings of relief, striking out three and not giving up a hit.

“Things went our way for a change,” Lavoie said. “We made the plays and we capitalized on their mistakes instead of the other way around. We played good, clean baseball.”

It began in the first round of the playoffs with Simsbury beating Manchester, 2-1. E.J. Lavoie’s East Granby/Western CT) scored the game-winning run thanks to an infield single from Aiden Dunleavy (Windsor/Loomis Chaffee) with the bases loaded. “It was a magical slide,” the elder Lavoie said.

In the decisive game three in the 6-4 semifinal win over Glastonbury, Casey Johnson (Windsor/Lasell College-Newtown MA) pitched six strong innings with his brother, Connor Johnson (Windsor/Keene State) picking up the save.

Avon’s Ben Suski (Avon Old Farms/Bowdoin) had the key hit in the game to break open the game for the Sabercats.

Also on the team was Avon’s Joe Suski and Simsbury’s Sean Sinacori, Brian Proto, Cody Nick, Grant Duford, Sam Collins and Martin Cayne-Yackel.

Tim Vincent of Simsbury founded the league in 2009 to give college-age players from Connecticut another opportunity to play more disciplined, competitive baseball.

“We try to produce the same collegiate environment that they have the rest of the year,” Vincent told the Collinsville Press in 2011. “Early batting practice, infield practice, strategy, and a disciplined coaching philosophy that includes no swearing or profanity.”

Players from ages 18-25 are eligible. Most players are on collegiate teams but some play on club teams in college. Others are former high school and American Legion players yearning to get back on the diamond. The league plays with wooden bats.

2018 Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League
Team W-L-T Pts.
Glastonbury Arrows 15-6-0 51
Wallingford Silver Storm 14-7-0 49
Manchester Mavericks 12-8-1 46
Southington Shock 8-12-0 36
West Hartford Thunder 8-12-0 36
Simsbury Sabercats 4-16-1 30
Teams earn three points for a win, two points for a win and one for a loss

2018 CCBL playoffs
First round (Single game)
Tuesday, July 24
Simsbury 2, Manchester 1
Southington 10, West Hartford 0

Semifinals (Best of 3)
Thursday, July 26
Glastonbury 4, Simsbury 1
Wallingford 3, Southington 0

Monday, July 30
Simsbury 8, Glastonbury 2
Wallingford 10, Southington 0, Wallingford wins series, 2-0

Tuesday, July 31
Simsbury 6, Glastonbury 4, Simsbury wins series, 2-1

Championship (Single game)
Friday, August 3

Simsbury 2, Wallingford 0

Previous CCBL champions (best-of-3 series)
2017: Glastonbury def. Manchester, 2-0
2016: Southington def. Manchester, 2-0
2015: Southington def. Glastonbury, 2-0
2014: Southington def. Glastonbury, 2-0
2013: West Hartford def. Manchester, 2-1
2012: Tobacco Valley def. Simsbury, 2-1
2011: Southington def. Tobacco Valley, 2-1
2010: Southington def. Tobacco Valley, 2-0
2009: Southington def. Simsbury, 2-0

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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