Newington baseball finished the regular season 17-3 after winning their final five games, including a 6-1 victory over Wethersfield at Dunkin' Donuts Park on May 23
Playing on a picturesque late afternoon at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Newington baseball defeated Wethersfield 6-1 last Monday, May 23.
Junior Gavin Gray pitched a gem at the gorgeous venue, striking out a handful and allowing only two hits in five solid innings.
Gray was never rattled despite the contest being tied or a one-run game for a majority of his time on the mound.
“Gavin is our ace. He really wanted the ball today,” NHS head coach Ben Alaimo said. “I thought he had his curveball working well today and when he has his curveball working he is tough to hit because he locates his fastball tremendously.”
Gray got the support he needed from the Newington bats. Senior captain Austin Howe led the charge with a pair of hits, including a home run in the sixth inning.
The game was scoreless for the first two innings before Newington’s Robert Cappellucci singled and a Wethersfield throwing error allowed Howe to score from second base.
Connor Daly then had a sacrifice fly, sending home Josiah Ross to provide the Nor'easters a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
J.T. Gallinoto nearly expanded the lead in the inning, but his drive to center field was snagged by a diving Noah Terzo for the third out.
Terzo then helped cut the deficit in half in the top of the fourth when he smashed a double and scored later in the inning.
The game remained 2-1 until Newington’s lineup let loose in the bottom of the sixth.
Nick DiCoccio tripled, sending home Daly, and then DiCoccio scored following a wild pitch.
Howe put the exclamation point on the game with a two-run blast, cleaning the wall in deep left.
“My approach was to get it over the second baseman's head, but he threw a middle fastball so I took advantage of that,” said Howe, who added that Gray set the stage for the memorable win. “Same old Gavin. Every time he gets on the mound we trust him and he’s our guy. We know he’ll go out there and give everything to us.”
Howe, who is headed to Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire to play collegiate football, relieved Gray in the sixth inning and struck out Harold Martinez to end the inning.
“Austyn is one of the best kids that I have ever coached, as a person and as a player,” said Alaimo. “He’s one of our glue guys that keeps us together. Nothing rattles him. He sparks us on offense, plays tremendous defense, and you can count on him in any spot.”
Senior Rosario Tine pitched five solid innings for the Eagles before being relieved prior to the sixth.
WHS head coach Mark Bagdasarian said that Tine been a consistent force for the Eagles in the second half season, including earning the win on Senior Night—a victory over Platt on May 17.
“I like the way we battled, especially at the plate,” added Bagdasarian, who knew Gray would be tough to hit. “I thought we had some really good at-bats and got his pitch count up. We just didn’t hit the ball extremely hard. He’s a good pitcher, but I thought our at-bats were really competitive.”
Wethersfield entered the game in Hartford riding a 10-game winning streak. They had several come-from-behind wins, including erasing a 5-0 deficit against Avon, during the stretch and Bagdasarian said resiliency is one of the team’s biggest assets.
“These guys don’t give up, they keep fighting. Even today, we were down against a top-ten LL school and they continue to compete. We had it 2-1 and liked the spot we were in,” added Bagdasarian, who replaced Tine prior to the six because of a high pitch count. “It just didn’t work out.”
Bagdasarian's team also won three one-run games during the 10-game run, including a 6-5 victory over Newington on May 3.
Howe said the Nor’easter used the previous loss to Wethersfield as motivation in Hartford.
“We knew we were capable of beating them, we just had to take advantage when we had opportunities and that’s what we did,” said Howe, who said it was the perfect setting for a revenge game. “It was awesome. Playing at such a nice facility, everyone had an edge to them and was ready to come out and perform.”
Two nights after defeating Wethersfield, Newington finished the regular season with a resounding 14-4 win over Middletown on May 25.
Howe earned the win from the mound, also connected on three hits for four runs and a pair of RBIs. Cappellucci drove in four runs on three hits, while Shaun Callahan and Ross each had a pair of RBIs as the Nor’easters closed the regular season with a record of 17-3.
Alaimo said he wanted to use the final five games in the regular season as a “dry run” for a potential state tournament push. Over those games, Newington was 5-0 and outscored the handful of opponents 49-19.
Wethersfield finished the regular season with a record of 15-5.
Junior Gavin Gray pitched five innings, striking out five and allowing only two hits, as the Nor'easters dealt the Eagles a 6-1 loss in Hartford.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin