By Hayley Tafuro
STAMFORD— A late-game push from Stamford Legion fell short at Cubeta Stadium Tuesday night in the Super Regional, resulting in a 7-5 loss to Cheshire, marking the end of Stamford’s state tournament run along with its summer season.
Stamford, which hours earlier defeated Branford in an elimination game, 2-0, found itself in a hole at the very start after things did not go its way in the top of the first inning. Cheshire took a quick 1-0 lead off of an RBI single and bumped it up to 2-0 after the umpire made a balk call. After a few more base hits, Cheshire led at the end of the inning, 4-0.
“It’s tough when you give a team a four-spot in the first inning,” Coach Kevin Murray said. “Was I nervous? No, because I knew there was a whole game to play. There were nine innings. I knew we were going to battle back and it was just a matter of time when we got our timing down.”
Starting pitcher Grant Stone regained composure and strung together three consecutive innings of great pitches, backed up by stellar defensive performances highlighted in the top of the third with an outstanding diving catch made by Kevin Stone in centerfield.
However despite the strong defensive plays, Stamford could not capitalize at the plate.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth when Stamford first got on the board after leadoff hitter Randy Polonia worked the bases and came home off of a pop fly from shortstop Ronnie Jackson.
However, Cheshire would tally two more runs in the fifth on a double error to extend its led to 6-1.
Stamford attempted to chip away at the deficit, including an RBI single from second baseman Johnny Spoto, who hit a ball down the third-base line and brought Pete Horn home for its second score of the game.
Then things started to heat up at Cubeta in the seventh inning.
The inning featured a little bit from everyone. Stamford loaded the bases on two walks and third baseman Ryan Lee’s single. Spoto’s sacrifice fly made the score 7-3. With two outs, RJ Moavero stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI single to bring Horn in for another run, and Cheshire then walked Stone, which brought Lee home, cutting the lead to 7-5.
“We count on all of them,” Murray said. “That kid over there challenged us and threw the ball well. We went through our order a couple times and started to catch up a bit. We had our shots and made it interesting.”
Both teams would not score again in the next two innings. Despite some key pitches from Shawn Urbano, who relieved Stone in the sixth inning, Stamford could not push through any more runs.
Still, Stamford had a great journey this season, full of success built off of ample talent.
“We had a special summer this year,” Murray said. “It’s hard to smile right now, but I can breathe easy knowing these kids are going to be fine in life. Like I always say, it’s more than baseball, it’s life. These kids battle, and I’m proud of them. You know what, there’s another chapter to this book, and we’ll move and get better from here on out and look into the future.”