Late Rally Ends WHS Baseball Run: Indians Rocked by Comeback in CIAC Quarters

HOLDING THE FORT - Watertown pitcher Robert Johnston’s three innings of shutout relief pitching set the tone for the Indians as they rallied to defeat second-seeded Ledyard, 6-5 in CIAC second round Class ‘M’ baseball game on May 29.    

ROCKVILLE - How close was the final four of the CIAC’s Class ‘M’ tournament baseball field to having three teams representing the NVL? So close that a hit here or there would have made it so, with the Indians of Watertown High School in the role of the surprise guest.

With a 2-1 lead over Rockville High School in the sixth inning of their quarterfinal round game on June 1, the Indians, the hard-charging 18th-seed, were but six outs away.

The Rams, seeded seventh, collected themselves, scoring four times in the bottom of the sixth, then held off the Indians to advance to the semifinals with a 5-2 win, going on to face St. Joseph High School of Trumbull for a spot in the championship game this weekend.    

“It was a tough way to end the year,” said a disappointed Watertown head coach Jerry Valentino. “We had our opportunities to tack on runs throughout the game and made some mistakes, then they made us pay for it in the sixth.”

The Indians, coming off upset wins over Vinal Tech and Ledyard, appeared ready to take down a third straight road game, scoring single runs in the second and fifth innings on RBI hits by sophomore John Biolo and freshman Cam Guerrera. 

Senior Hayden Beauty had a pair of doubles for the Indians, who finished their season with a very deceptive record of 13-11, which would have been better had the injury bug (actually a swarm of them) not settled in.

“We were playing really good baseball,” said Valentino, “and then had a slew of injuries come on, which happens. We fought through it, though and finished strong and made a nice little run here in the tournament,” Valentino added.

After the initial disappointment of the end of the season wore off, Valentino regained his usual upbeat train of thought and assessed the season as a positive one.

“We as coaches are very proud of these guys,” Valentino said of a team which faced the loss of 12 seniors seniors from last year’s team. “We had a very young and inexperienced team coming into the season, but they showed how talented are.

“Our staff is very proud of the seniors (Robert Johnston, Daniel Shelton, Colin Cronin, Justin Bellemare, Hayden Beauty, Andrew Teardo, and Steven Guo) who are leaving us as well as our younger guys, who gained some valuable experience that will only help us down the road,” Valentino said.

“It was a fun and successful year and I think our success will continue into next year. I want to thank all the players, coaches and everyone involved with our program for the time and effort they put in,” Velentino said.

With a returning core of three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen who received an unexpected ampunt of varsity playing team, don;t be surprised to see the 2020 Indians not being anyone’s surprise guest come tournament time. 

Echoing that sentiment, Velentino served notice.

“We are looking forward to being right back in the thick of things next year.”

Quarterfinal Round CIAC Class ‘M’ Tournament

#18 Watertown at #7 Rockville, June 1

                   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Watertown 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2  8  2

Rockville    0 0 0 1 0 4 x  5  7 0

TAKING DOWN LEDYARD

Less than 24 hours after their opening round win, the Indians boarded a bus for the long (and we do mean LONG) trip to Ledyard High School for a second game game against the second-seeded Colonels of the Eastern Connecticut Conference on May 29. 

Hey, if you have to travel that far, might as well bring home a win to make it all worthwhile, and the Indians did just that in the top of the seventh inning, as junior Steve Phillips lashed a two-run triple to tie the game at 5-5, then went ahead when junior Bailey Boivin’s successful squeeze bunt brought home Phillips with the eventual game-winning run to give the locals a thrilling 6-5 win to move on to the quartefinal.     

Phillips’ clutch hit capped a two-hit, three-RBI game; Boivin, who came on and made a major contribution in the midst of the late-season injury wave, contributed three singles and two RBIs.

Johnston’s relief pitching put the Indians in a position to come back; inheriting a 5-3 deficit, the captain shut out Ledyard over three innings withour allowing a hit; he also had a single, double and scored three runs, allowing WHS to leave Casinoville having beaten the house.  

Quarterfinal Round CIAC Class ‘M’ Tournament

#18 Watertown at #2 Ledyard, May 29 

                   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Watertown   2 0 1 0 0 0 3  6 9  3

Ledyard       1 2 0 2 0 0 0  5 7 1

“A great win,” said Valentino. “It showed what we’re capable of and what we’d been doing most of the season.”

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