WEST HAVEN — Even as the underdog, the Connecticut Hackers went down fighting in the National Adult Baseball Association Connecticut Division title game.
The Naugatuck-based Hackers season ended Sunday following a hard-fought 5-4 loss to the Bridgeport All-Stars, who finished with a dominating 26-2 record. The Hackers finished 20-8.
The game came down to the last at bat. Mike Bochino, who had two hits in the game, represented the tying run at second with two outs. The Hackers’ next batter, Jeff Mazzamurro, hit a fly ball to center and was robbed by a diving catch that ended the game.
“The entire game felt like we were on pins and needles,” Hackers manager Mike Doran said.
The Bridgeport All-Stars cruised through the regular season and playoffs to capture both division titles. The Hackers, though, made them work for the latter.
The Hackers led 4-1 going into the seventh and forced the All-Stars to come from behind. The Hackers scoring started in the top of the third as Steve Webb singled home Matt Jaronko, who singled and advanced to second on a R.J. Shaw hit.
In the sixth, the Hackers tacked on three more. Shaw doubled and went to third on a Webb single. Dan Kaminski walked to load the bases before Wes Dutton walked to force home a run. Bochino followed with a two-run single and the Hackers led 4-1.
Bridgeport chipped away and scored three in the seventh after four straight singles to lead off the inning. Mike Fox, the Hackers starter, escaped further damage after a nifty 4-6-3 double play by the trio of Shaw, Kaminski and Ryan Mazurkivich.
In the eighth, the Hackers stranded two runners in the top of the inning. Bridgeport capitalized on an error to take the lead, 5-4, in the bottom half.
Fox gutted out a complete-game, eight-inning effort. He struck out three, had three 1-2-3 innings, and of the 12 hitters he faced — none had more than one hit.
“Mike did a great job pitching to contact, looked confident and induced lots of ground balls,” Doran said.
Shaw finished with two hits, a walk and a run scored, while Webb had two singles and a walk. Nick Pereira and Dutton also had hits for the Hackers, who reached the finals for the seventh time in the last nine years.
DORAN STEPS DOWN: The Hackers’ player-manager Mike Doran said he is stepping down after 11 years of running the administrative duties for the adult baseball team, which features many Naugatuck-raised players. Doran said he will remain on the roster as a player.
“Whenever we welcomed a new player, they always said how impressed they were by friendliness and camaraderie of the guys on the team,” Doran said. “I think that’s why were so successful, because of that model of having fun.”