MERIDEN, August 2 – Reid Gesualdi’s two-run single to right field in the sixth inning was the difference as the Stamford American Legion baseball team beat Southington, 2-1, in game one of the best-of-3 Connecticut state championship series Friday night at Ceppa Field.
Stamford Post 3 (28-3) can win their second state championship in two years with a victory on Saturday. Game two of the series begins at 1 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will immediately follow game two.
Southington Post 72 (23-8) took a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning. Jeremy Mercier reached on a one out single off Stamford starting pitcher Matt Tiplady. With two outs, Southington catcher Joshua Panarella doubled to center field for the first run of the game.
But Post 3 responded quickly. Jaden Dawkins led off the bottom of the sixth with an infield single and moved to third base on Mike Berlingo’s bunt down the third base line. A one-out walk to Joe Skarad loaded the bases and Gesualdi’s single to right field drove in two runs.
The game was a classic pitching duel. Both starters went the distance. Tiplady allowed four hits and struck out four for Stamford. He walked three. For Southington, Nicholas Burkowski allowed five hits and struck out four. He walked just one.
Stamford, who have won 14 straight games, is playing in the final for the fourth time in the last five years. Post 3 won the title in 2017 and finished second in 2016 and 2015.
Southington, which won the Zone 1 Southern Division title this summer, is the defending state champion having swept Ellington in last year’s state final by scores of 3-1 and 7-6 in eight innings. Post 72 had won all six of their previous state tournament games this season.
Stamford 2, Southington 1
Southington (23-8) 000 001 0 — 1-4-0
Stamford (28-3) 000 002 x — 2-5-0
Nicholas Burkowski and Joshua Panarella; Matt Tiplady and Joe Skarad; WP: Tiplady; LP: Burkowski; 2B: Panarella