The third time was the charm for Brien McMahon. The Senators had been defeated twice before this season by cross-city rivals Norwalk High. During the regular season they were no-hit, then stunned as the three-seed in the FCIAC quarterfinals.
The third meeting of the season, this time in the Class LL state tournament, McMahon needed a sparkand got one in the form of a complete-game shutout by lefthander Aleko Petridis.
The laid-back, self-described junkball pitcher baffled Norwalk hitters, relying heavily on off-speed pitches. Petridis tallied only one strikeout, allowed four hits and walked two, but he got eight groundouts and two huge double plays. McMahon's only run came on an error and a bloop RBI single by Brendan Davis, as the Senators finally beat Norwalk High, 1-0.
"They had already beaten us twice on our own field, so we had to put that behind us for the state tournament," Petridis said. "I just hit my spots and my defense made every play. I don't really get rattled. No matter what the score is, I just go out there and just do what I can."
Both Petridis and Norwalk High pitchers Spencer Jacoby and John Lautenbach worked their way out of some serious jams. The Bears had base runners in every inning except the first, and the Senators left 11 runners on base.
Their best chance came in the third when Matt Ederle ripped a single to left. Jacoby raced home from second, leaping and flipping over McMahon catcher Chris Holomokoff. But he didnt touch home and was tagged out. Norwalk would not get another runner past first base.
McMahon had a golden opportunity to blow the game open in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out. Lautenbach came on in relief of Jacoby and slammed the door on the Senators with back-to-back strikeouts.
For Norwalk, it was a frustrating end to a season that has seen brilliant highs and error-filled lows.
"This one was kind of in the middle. We weren't great, but we didn't have our best stuff either," Norwalk head coach Pete Tucci said. "If you had a chance to work with these kids all year though, it's really been an 'up' season."
Third-seeded McMahon moves on to the Class LL quarterfinals against New Britain on Saturday. The game will be played at Ansonia High School at 3:30 p.m.
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