Rocky Hill's Ben Centurelli pitched a complete-game shutout as the Terriers eliminated St. Joseph in the opening round of the Class M tournament on May 31.
Junior Ben Centurelli pitched a complete-game shutout as Rocky Hill baseball knocked off St. Joseph 1-0 in the opening round of the Class M tourney on May 31 at Griswold Middle School.
“We just needed to compete and at the end of the day we did that,” said Centurelli. “We competed and outplayed them on the field.”
After allowing a pair of hits in the opening inning, Centurelli was rock solid the rest of the afternoon and allowed only three more hits, striking out four and walking none.
“He is one of the most competitive guys that I have ever coached,” Rocky Hill head coach Eric Frank said of his ace. “He has tremendous command of his pitches and he wasn’t afraid of them. He gave us an outstanding performance today.”
Frank and his No. 9 ranked Terriers had a tough task in the opening round against the No. 24 Cadets, who play in the highly-competitive Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC).
“We knew it would be a challenge, but we have confidence in our guys,” added Frank.
Thanks to Centurelli’s magnificent performance from the mound and a key hit from senior captain Jack Pawlich, the Terriers were able to make their final home game of the season a glowing success.
With the sun beating down on the exposed field at GMS, the Terriers leaned on Centurelli and the stout group behind him, which gave the team an early confidence boost.
In the top of the first inning, St, Joseph senior captain and leadoff hitter Chris Adzima reached base, but was picked off while trying to steal second on a laser throw from catcher Brendan Whalen.
Center fielder Jaiden Reyes then made an acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch on a deep shot from Riley Jordan.
St. Joseph’s ace Matt Tabel was equally impressive as his counterpart until the bottom of the third when the Terriers would break the scoreless tie.
Reyes drew a walk and reached second following a ground out by Tyler Carlstrom. St. Joseph’s head coach Jim Chaves then decided to intentionally walk Whalen—the Terriers No. 3 hitter–putting the powerful Pawlich at the plate.
Pawlich delivered with a line drive shot down the left field line, scoring Reyes from second base.
“I did not expect that to happen and felt extremely disrespected, so I had to do what I had to do to them. They were asking for it,” Pawlich said of the plate appearance following the intentional walk of Whalen. “I was expecting something inside. I saw the fastball high and inside and I was able to turn on it.”
Pawlich, who plays first base, finished 2-3 from the plate.
Frank said he was a little surprised at St. Joseph’s strategy, adding, “They are both really good hitters so it’s like ‘pick your poison’. They decided to go to Jack and thankfully they did. He came up huge for us.”
Playing with the lead, Centurelli methodically retired the next dozen batters by mixing in a series of change-up pitches, which he said he “found success with” as the game went on.
In the top of the 7th inning, it was a complete defensive effort that put the game on ice.
Pawlich scooped up a hit and flipped it to Centurelli, who ran over to first base from the mound, for the first out. Pawlich then did it himself for the second out when he nabbed a grounder and stepped on first. Reyes ended the contest by shagging a pop fly to center field.
“We took note that some people were doubting us coming into this game and we always just try and prove our doubters wrong,” said Pawlich.
The opening round win advanced the Terriers to the second round where they would fall to Killingly 8-1 on June 1, ending the high school careers for Pawlich and three other seniors—Ethan Pancoast, Leo Kerz, and Jeff Vanturas.
Pawlich called the team “a family”, adding the seniors have become extremely close over the past four years
The second round exit ended a successful first season for Frank, who took over the program last offseason and guided the Terriers to 15 wins this spring, including victories in 9 of the last 12 games.
Frank stated that the team developed into a “mentally tough group”, adding, “I’m really proud of these guys. I’m not the easiest guy to play for, but they bought in from day one.”
Last Tuesday was a banner afternoon for Rocky Hill sports in general. Along with the baseball winning the tourney game, the girls’ tennis team and the softball team hosted games at the high school.
Tennis defeated Wolcott (5-2) in the first round of the Class M tournament.
Softball fell to Seymour 10-3, ending the team’s first season under head coach Will Ramos, who led the Terriers to 13 wins this spring.
Terriers' softball yielded four all-conference players in Erin Slavin, Christina DeNovellis, Shauna Kehoe, and Maddie Dillon. Dillon also made all-state.
Slavin (Clark University), Dillon (Clark University), and Jazzy Edmunds (Western Connecticut State University) are the team’s three departing senior players and all will be playing college softball.
Ramos praised his three seniors and said the team bonded this spring, adding, “The chemistry was there this season. Unfortunately it just didn’t happen at the end of the season and we fell short today.”
Rocky Hill baseball seniors (l-r) Ethan Pancoast, Leo Kerz, Jack Pawlich, and Jeff Vanturas helped lead the Terriers to 15 wins this season.
Leave a Reply.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin