Saturday marks the final day of the Connecticut American Legion 19-Under Regional Qualifying Tournament and the Greenwich Cannons are one of just three teams with a chance to represent the state at the Legion Regionals.
The Cannons earned the right to compete on the last day of the Regional Qualifying Tournament by dealing NCL Legion its first loss of the tourney, behind an outstanding start by pitcher Tommy Healey and timely hitting.
Healey, a right-hander, yielded only one run on one hits in five innings for eighth-seeded Greenwich, which led throughout on its way to posting a decisive 5-1 victory over seventh-seeded NCL. The Cannons, who have a record of 4-1 in the tournament (including their play-in win), will face fourth-seeded Fairfield Saturday at 1 p.m. The Greenwich-Fairfield winner plays NCL in the final Saturday at 4 p.m. NCL received a berth in the championship game since they were the lone team that entered Friday’s action without a loss.
Fairfield is 3-1 in the tournament, as is NCL – which is comprised of players from Windsor, Windsor Locks and Suffield. Healey, who registered five strikeouts, didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and NCL’s only run against him was unearned.
“Tommy put his team on his back,” Cannons manager Mike Abate said. “He’s been like that all year – attacking the zone, attacking the zone. We played lights out defense and Tommy did a great job.”
A rising Greenwich High School senior, Healey succeeded at spotting his fastball for strikes.
“The lights were on and we were underdogs in this game, so I had to come in and challenge them and that’s what I did,” Healey said.
Greenwich played from ahead, scoring two runs off NCL left-hander Ryan Barthel in the second inning, then adding a run in the third, sixth and seventh inning.
“I love pitching with the lead, it’s the best thing to have,” Healey said. “I can throw strikes and not worry about pitching around guys and make them hit.”
Outfielder Jack Zola started Greenwich’s second-inning rally with a single, second baseman Auggie Bancroft walked and leadoff hitter/outfielder Tyler Cusimano followed by hitting a double to right center field off Barthel, scoring Zola and giving the Cannons a 1-0 lead.
“I feel really comfortable and confident and that’s really good going into the championship game,” Cusimano said. “He’s a lefty, he threw slow, but after a couple of pitches I got used to it and I was able to capitalize.”
Said Abate: “He (Cusimano) leadoff and leading the way. He got into a couple of nice ones tonight and it was nice to see him run around the bases.”
Riley Redahan put a good swing on a Barthel pitch and hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing home Bancroft and putting Greenwich on top, 2-0. The Cannons padded their lead in the top of the third inning. Ben Nash, an outfielder walked, first baseman Cage Lasley reached on an infield single and Zola drove in Nash with an RBI single to left field, making it 3-0. Greenwich put runners on base throughout and Nash helped lead the way. He singled, walked twice and scored a run.
“It’s all about plate discipline for me and taking pitches out of the zone and making pitchers throw strikes,” said Nash, a 2020 Greenwich High graduate, who plays baseball at Kenyon College. “If you make them earn it and have long at-bats, some of these guys lose command late in the game.”
Meanwhile, Healey costed through most of his five innings of work. He walked two batters in the third inning, avoided a jam by picking off an NCL runner at second base. In the fourth inning, NCL scored its only run, behind an infield error and a pair of wild pitches, cutting Greenwich’s lead to 3-1. Erik Romero’s line drive single to left field in the fifth inning was NCL’s only hit of the night.
The sixth inning saw the Cannons score one run, as Cusimano laced a double to right center field and scored on a single to right field by Christian Mingione. A deep fly ball to left field in the inning moved Cusimano to third base.
In the seventh inning, Nash walked, Justin Zych reached first on a fielder’s choice, Lasley drew a walk, Zola reached on an outfield error and Zych scored on a wild pitching, giving the Cannons a 5-1 advantage.
Greenwich, which had eight hits for the game, received a save from Mingione, who pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
“I pitched a couple of days ago, so I am pretty fresh now and it felt good to get out there,” Mingione said. “I know our defense is going to help me.”
A 2021 GHS graduate, Mingione was impressed with another quality start by Healey.
“Tommy just continues to battle,” Mingione said. “He’s battled all summer, he battled all through the high school season and he’s always there when we need him. He always has a good game when we need him to.”
The Cannons are 1-1 so far this season against Fairfield.
“They’re a great team, they’re well coached and they’ve got a great program,” Abate said of Fairfield. “We know them extremely well, they know us extremely well too, so it’s going to be exciting.”
“We’re going to have some guys step up,” Nash said. “The bats will be there and hopefully, we’ll come out with a win.”
Categories: Summer Sports