NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The New Canaan Cal Ripken 12-year-old All-Stars had about 20 minutes to regroup from a devastating loss. They did, and now they face the tall task of defeating Newtown twice to advance to the Cal Ripken World Series.
New Canaan lost to Newtown, 12-11, in eight innings in the completion of a suspended game Wednesday in Newtown. The team bounced back in the losers bracket final to top Exeter, N.H., 6-3. New Canaan plays Newtown in the championship round on Thursday in Newtown, beginning at 3 p.m. New Canaan has to defeat Newtown twice to reach the Ripken World Series. Newtown advances with just one win.
“You have no idea how hard that was to bounce back from that first game,’’ New Canaan manager Chas Abate said. “That was one of the toughest things to do for a 12-year-old baseball player. To lose in eight innings, go through our pitching staff, and then have to play again, it was just incredible.”
In Wednesday’s first game against Newtown, New Canaan took an 11-10 lead into the sixth inning. Newtown tied it after Ben Dieckman walked to lead off the inning against Rob Jones. Pinch runner Rob Lombardo went to second on a balk, to third on a wild pitch and scored on an overthrow to third on an attempted pickoff. In the eighth, Newtown’s Connor Barrett laced a two-out single to right to drive in the winning run.
New Canaan bounced back against Exeter behind the pitching of Matt Burger and Jones, who combined on a five-hitter. Jones hit a two-run home run in the third, and Mike Pelli slammed a three-run homer in a four-run fourth. Jim Stanley had the other RBI for New Canaan. Pelli had two hits, scored two runs and had three RBIs.
Now New Canaan has to defeat Newtown twice on Thursday to advance to Aberdeen, Md., site of the Cal Ripken World Series. “We’re going to be ready,’’ Abate said, “for a long day of baseball.”