05/28/2021 04:00 a.m. EST
The North Haven baseball team pulled off an 3-1 upset against Hand in the quarterfinals of the SCC Tournament before taking a 7-1 loss to West Haven in the semifinals last week. With its overall record of 11-9, North Haven opens play in the Class L State Tournament this week.
North Haven entered SCC tourney play as the No. 8 seed and traveled to Madison to take on top-seeded Hand for a quarterfinal game on May 24. North Haven scored all three of its runs in the third inning and went on to get a 3-1 win versus a Tigersâ team that came into the game with a record of 16-1 and had defeated North Haven twice during the regular season.
Senior captain JJ Mazzaro pitched a compete game to help North Haven defeat Hand in the SCC quarters. Mazzaro allowed one earned run on five hits and five walks to go with four strikeouts in seven innings for North Haven. Hand scored its only run of the game on a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning. Mazzaro was able to escape several jams throughout the rest of the game, including a bases-loaded dilemma in the seventh.
Trailing 1-0, North Haven plated three runs in the top of the third inning, using four-consecutive two-out hits to do the damage. Junior Anthony Acampora drew a walk to start off the inning and was pinch run for by junior Chris Hager, who subsequently moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by fellow junior Shaun Murray.
Following the second out of the inning, junior Owen Pincince hit an RBI single that brought home Hager to tie the game 1-1. Junior Mike Anquillare followed with a double that scored Pincince to give North Haven a 2-1 lead. The next batter, senior captain Cole Zalegowski, hit a single that advanced Anquillare to third. Sophomore Steven Vincent then hit an RBI single that scored Anquillare to put North Haven up 3-1.
Hand put two runners aboard in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, but did Mazzaro did his best high-wire act to escape each of those three jams. The senior right-hander then set down the side in order in the sixth.
Hand kept battling and used two walks and a single to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh. However, Mazzaro was able to get Handâs cleanup hitter Danny Weinstein to line out to third base and seal the 3-1 victory. This win marked the 926th career victory for North Haven Head Coach Bob DeMayo, who is in his 63rd year as the teamâs head coach.
Pincince went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI for North Haven. Zalegowski also went 2-for-3 and had a double. Vincent went 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Anquillare was 1-for-3 with a double, a run, and an RBI. Junior Ryan Balzano went 1-for-4 with a stolen base, while junior Derek Novicki drew a walk and had a stolen base.
The day after defeating Hand, North Haven ventured West Haven to face the 4th-seeded Blue Devils in the SCC semifinals. West Haven scored four runs in the first inning and went on to get a 7-1 win to advance to face Fairfield Prep in the championship game.
West Haven used a sacrifice fly, an RBI single, and a two-run double to score its four runs in the first inning. The Blue Devils scored another run in the second inning for a 5-0 advantage.
North Haven got on the board with a run in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Tyler Harger reached on an error and then fellow sophomore Antonio Fusco came in to pinch run. Fusco advanced to second and then third on couple of errors and later came home on a sac fly by Murray to make it 5-1.
However, West Haven came back with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning and another run in the sixth to increase its lead to 7-1. North Haven was retired in order in the seventh inning as West Haven junior Gianna Gambardella pitched a complete game to send the Blue Devils to the semis.
Balzano turned in a valiant effort in relief to try and keep North Haven in the game. Balzano came in during the first inning and went the rest of the way, pitching 5.1 innings in which he allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
North Havenâs offense was held to three hits in the game. Balzano, Vincent, and Harger each had a single for North Haven. Murray drew a walk and had an RBI on the sacrifice fly that scored Fusco.
North Haven now turns its attention toward the Class L State Tournament, which gets underway with qualifying round action on Saturday, May 29. The first round is on Tuesday, June 1; the second round takes place on Wednesday, June 2; the quarterfinals are on Saturday, June 5; the semifinals are on Tuesday, June 8; and the championship game will be played at Palmer Field in Middletown on either Friday, June 11 or Saturday, June 12. North Haven has won five state titles with Coach DeMayo with the most-recent one coming in 2015.