SIMSBURY, September 5, 2020 – This group of players on the Simsbury Little League baseball team has won championships before.
Most of the players were together on Simsbury teams that won a District 6 championship two years ago in the 8-10 division and a second D6 crown a year ago in the Minor Division (ages 9-11), going to the four-team state final a few weeks later.
This group added another District 6 championship to their collection. Simsbury had 10 hits and beat Tri-Town from Litchfield, Warren and Goshen, 8-2 to win the D6 Major Division title and earn a berth to the state tournament later this month.
Simsbury (4-0) received two hits each from Ethan Johnson and Nathan Odegard in the victory. The Simsbury pitching staff did well, limiting Tri-Town to just two hits and striking out eight batters.
Tri-Town (4-2) had won three straight elimination games – ousting Avon, Torrington and Burlington — and to earn a spot in their first D6 final since 1999 but they couldn’t get any timely hits on Saturday night at Memorial Field.
“Our middle of the (batting) order did a heck of a job,” Simsbury manager Brian Busam said. Odgeard, the No. 5 hitter, was 2-for-3 with a double, home run and one RBI. Hitters in spots No. 4 through No. 7 had six of Simsbury’s 10 hits.
“We are really like a family,” Busam said “We have the best coaches and they spend a lot of time with the kids, who worked really hard. It’s all about the kids.”
Simsbury starting pitcher Nathan Gritzmatcher was outstanding in his first two innings of work, striking out three and not allowing a hit. But Simsbury used a pinch hitter for Gritzmatcher in the second inning because Little League rules require every player on the roster to have at least one at-bat and one inning of work in the field.
Teammate Thomas Cerreta took his place at the plate but before he could finish his at-bat, a Simsbury baserunner was thrown out trying to steal second base. Because Cerreta couldn’t finish his at-bat, he had to stay in the game and Gritzmatcher had to come out. Gritzmatcher could return to the game but he couldn’t return as the pitcher.
So Simsbury reliever Timmy Beaulieu had to come in earlier than expected or planned. But he did just fine, allowing just two hits and striking out five in four innings of work.
Simsbury got plenty of support at the plate. Odegard’s second inning home run to left field gave Simsbury a 1-0 lead in the second inning. After John Mascaro and Beaulieu singled, one run scored on a fielder’s choice and one came in on a RBI single from Blake Ali Bozek for a 3-0 lead.
Simsbury added a fourth run in the third inning on a controversial play. With one out, Simsbury’s Ethan Johnson singled and moved to second base on a successful sacrifice bunt from Brady Naspo. Johnson tried to score from second base on Brodie Busam’s RBI single to left field.
Johnson collided with Tri-Town catcher Owen Reid trying to score and Reid was called for catcher’s interference allowing SImsbury to take a 4-0 lead.
Simsbury added two more runs in the fourth inning on a RBI double from Declan Griffiths and an error for a 6-0 lead. Simsbury scored twice in the fifth inning thanks to a double from Odegard, a walk to Mascaro and another Tri-Town error.
Quinn Coffey had a RBI single for Tri-Town in the fifth inning while Pickett doubled, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a strikeout in the sixth inning for Tri-Town. Tri-Town’s Jack Gollow struck out but Simsbury’s catcher Brady Naspo dropped the ball so Gollow took off for first base while Pickett broke for home from third base to score Tri-Town’s second run.
This is Simsbury’s third D6 title in the Major Division since 2014. Simsbury also won last year in 2019. Tri-Town’s last title came in 1999 and that was their most recent District 6 title game appearance.
Simsbury 8, Tri-Town 2
Tri-Town (4-2) 000 011 — 2-2-2
Simsbury (4-0) 031 22x — 8-10-2
Chuck Pickett, Owen Reid (4) and Reid, Joe Sepples (4); Nathan Gritzmarker, Timmy Beaulieu (3) and Brady Naspo; WP: Gritzmarker; LP: Pickett; 2B: Pickett (T), Nathan Odegard (S), Declan Griffiths (S); HR: Odegard (S)
2020 District 6 Tournaments
Major Division Baseball (ages 11-12)
Sunday, August 30
Tri-Town 5, Torrington 2
Burlington 4, East Granby/Granby 3
Steve Blass NW Connecticut (Falls Village) 9, Canton 8
Simsbury 10, Avon 0 (5)
Monday, August 31
Torrington 6, East Granby/Granby 5, EG/Granby eliminated
Avon 8, Canton 7, Canton eliminated
Burlington 7, Tri-Town 1
Simsbury 11, Steve Blass (NW Connecticut) 1
Tuesday, September 1
Torrington 15, Steve Blass NW CT 5, Steve Blass eliminated
Tri-Town (Litchfield) 15, Avon 5, Avon eliminated
Thursday, September 3
Simsbury 9, Burlington 6
Tri-Town 10, Torrington 1, Torrington eliminated
Friday, September 4
Tri-Town 9, Burlington 0, Burlington eliminated
Saturday, September 5
Championship: Simsbury 8, Tri-Town 2