NORWALK, Conn. -- After a strong start, the Norwalk 9-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars were eliminated from the state tournament with consecutive losses. Norwalk ended up finishing third.
West Hartford thew Norwalk into the losers' bracket with a 14-0 victory. Needing a win to stay alive, Norwalk lost its next game to New Milford, 9-4.
West Hartford came out swinging and scored three runs in the first inning off Norwalk starting pitcher Matt Claps. Claps found his form in the second inning, giving up no runs while striking out two batters. Despite his strong work in the second inning, Claps was removed from the game and Norwalk gave up 10 runs in the third inning to a potent West Hartford defense. CJ Arsenault closed out the game on the mound for Norwalk, giving up just one run and striking out tow.
Arsenault started on the mound for Norwalk and pitched well, but New Milford was able to put up four unearned runs in the top of the first due to miscues by the Norwalk defense. Arsenault shut down the opposition in the second inning and struck out three New Milford batters in his two innings of work.
Norwalk bounced back in the second inning thanks to singles by Kostaki Kodonas, Isaiah Gonzalez and a bases loaded walk to Ryan Notley. Pete Dennan picked up an RBI on a ground out to second. The inning could have been bigger if not for a great defensive play by the New Milford first baseman on a line drive by hot hitting Jack Vahle.
After Arsenault’s strong inning, he was relieved on the mound by Vahle. New Milford sneaked two more runs across the plate in the third inning due to rough defense and a single. That was all New Milford would get as Vahle put together another impressive pitching performance for Norwalk, striking out seven batters in his four innings on the mound.
Norwalk put another run on the board in the third thanks to a single from Kodonas who was a hit machine during the state tournament. Norwalk bats were held quiet in the fourth and fifth innings thanks to good defense by the New Milford squad and the score was 6-3 going into the bottom of the sixth.
The inning started with yet another hit from Kodonas, who later scored on a Matt Lanzaratto single, making the score 6-4. Vin Venez also collected a single during the inning.
With two outs Vahle came to the plate with the bases loaded. After fighting off two pitches for strikes, Vahle hit a missile to the New Milford shortstop. The shortstop quickly shot his glove into the air and was able to knock the ball down but did not field it cleanly at first. The fielder then collected the ball and flipped the ball to third a force out ending the game.
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