The Greenwich Senior American Legion Cannons needed a victory against West Hartford today to earn a berth in the Connecticut American Legion Regional Qualifying Tournament.
Tommy Healey and Christian Mingione certainly made sure the Cannons secured a spot.
Mingione delivered two hits, including a home run and collected four RBIs, while Healey pitched 6 1/3 effective innings to help lead eighth-seeded Greenwich to a 7-4 victory over No. 9 West Hartford at Julian Curtiss School.
The win advanced the American Legion Post 29 Greenwich Cannons into the eight-team, double elimination Regional Qualifying Tournament, which begins on Monday. Greenwich will travel to top-seeded Waterford Monday for a 6:30 p.m. game in the opening round of the Regional Qualifying Tournament.
The winner of the Connecticut Regional Qualifying Tournament advances to the Northeast Regional Tournament.
“We’re clicking, we’re hitting and getting good pitching,” Cannons coach Mike Abate said, as he looked ahead to the Regional Qualifying Tournament. “I think we could be a tough out.”
Healey, a rising Greenwich High School senior, allowed three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four batters and worked from ahead in the county the majority of the game.
“They have a really good team that I just had to come and attack against and throw a lot of strikes,” Healey said. “This was another really good lineup that I had to face, but it was a good outcome.”
Said Abate: “Tommy has been doing it all year for us. Last week, he beat Danbury to put us in a situation and this week he was in the zone throwing strikes, giving his team the best chance to win.”
Mingione had two hits and four RBIs, catcher Hunter Gruenstrass singled, first baseman Cage Lasley had one hit, two walks and one run scored, right fielder Ben Nash was on base three times and scored a run and outfielder Jake Mondschein drove in two runs in the winning effort.
“We could have done a better job with runners in scoring position in the later innings, but overall, we did pretty well,” said Mingione, who gave the Cannons some early breathing room with his three-run home run.
The Cannons seized control by scoring five runs in the second inning off West Hartford left-hander Seth Erlich. Shortstop Riley Redahan led off the inning with a walk, then Jack Zola was hit by an Erlich pitch. Third baseman Cage Lasley walked to load the bases and Mondschein drove in a run with a fielder’s choice ground ball, giving the Cannons a 1-0 lead.
Zola scored the second run of the inning on a wild throw in the infield, as the Cannons executed a double steal. Nash reached on an infield error and Mingione went the other way with an Erlich fastball, driving the pitch to deep right field for a three-run homer, making it 5-0.
“Coach was telling us that he was throwing his two-seamer away to righties, so I tried to sit back and let it travel and put it in a good spot out there,” Mingione said of his home run.
West Hartford cut Greenwich’s lead to 5-1 on a sacrifice fly by outfielder Tucker Redden in the top of the fourth inning, but the Cannons regained their five-run lead when Mingione’s single off West Hartford reliever Joe Dooley scored outfielder Tyler Cusimano in the bottom of the fourth inning.
In the fifth inning, Lasley singled and scored on a base hit up the middle by Mondschein, putting Greenwich on top, 7-1. Dooley delivered another sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and West Hartford rallied for a pair of runs in the seventh, to close to within 7-4. Mondschein, a left-hander, relieved Healey with one out in the seventh and retired two batters to pick up the save and secure the Cannons’ spot in the Regional Qualifying Tournament.
“This is where we have wanted to be since the start of the summer,” Mingione said. “We are in the final eight and it’s double elimination, so we’ve got our chance.”
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