CROMWELL - There is no denying the rivalry between Cromwell and Morgan. Both schools belong to the highly competitive Shoreline Conference and seemingly play each other at crucial moments each season in nearly every sport.
The latest chapter in their rivalry was written in baseball’s opening round of the Shoreline Conference (SLC) Tournament. Cromwell used an excellent pitching performance from Jake Regula and a big third inning from the plate to blank the visiting Huskies, 5-0, at Fran Monnes Field at Cromwell High School.
Regula was a little shaky at the start of the game and had to get himself out of an early jam before cruising the rest of the afternoon. He opened the game by walking two of the first three batters he faced and a fielding error had loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning. The dart-throwing righty regained his control and struck out the next batter. He then forced a ground ball, which was scooped up by the shortstop, who flipped the ball to the second baseman, who turned and fired the ball to first--resulting in a classic 6-4-3 double play. After the inning-ending double play, Regula was nearly perfect from the mound over the final six innings, striking out four more Huskies and allowing only two hits. The win was his second consecutive shutout and third straight overall.
Multi-sport star Mike McNally was the catalyst behind Cromwell’s offense. The senior infielder was the Panthers’ lead-off man and belted a blooper to the gap in leftfield for a single to start the bottom half of the first inning. Captain catcher Kevin Radziewicz drove McNally home with an RBI single, giving Cromwell the lead for good. McNally finished a perfect three-for-three from the plate and added another run to his impressive afternoon.
The Panthers added three more runs in the third and an insurance run in the fourth inning to preserve their fifth victory in a row, 18 overall.
One of the many welcomed surprises this season has been freshman Sean McLaven. The outfielder has a cannon for an arm and has held his own at the plate this season. He finished with a hit and run in the victory over Morgan and hasn’t committed an error in the past eight games.
The victory was Cromwell’s third against their archrival this season. Each game has been a shutout, with the Panthers outscoring the Huskies by a combined 16-0 score in the trio of meetings.
Cromwell followed up the opening round victory by defeating Haddam-Killingworth in the semifinals of the tournament. Logan Lessard continued Cromwell’s domination from the mound, pitching a complete game and striking out eight, in a 3-0 shutout. McNally again led the Cromwell bats, registering two hits, a run and two stolen bases in the win.
The Panthers finished off their successful week by edging East Hampton 2-1 in the finals of the SLC tournament. Regula again pitched a gem, striking out nine. He also banged out two hits and drove in a run from the plate.
The team now heads into the Class S Tournament as the number two seed. They’re four wins away from a potential third straight trip to the championship game.