Coach Bob Neth’s team took a tough loss in last year’s Senior Babe Ruth state tournament. The Housatonic Valley Babe Ruth all-star team was bounced early in the 2014 tournament by eventual state champ, Newtown.
Neth’s squad rebounded strong this year, beating Stamford, 6-5, July 16 to capture a state title. This marks District 3’s fifth state title since 1999.
The victory came thanks to a big fifth inning. Housatonic Valley, which is made up of players from Naugatuck, Seymour, Shelton and Milford, scored three runs to extend its lead to 6-2 with key hits by Andrew Goldstein and Ryan Murphy.
Housatonic Valley didn’t start the game they way they wanted, however. Stamford took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Housy came right back to tie the score in the bottom of the second.
Neth admits that it was a bit of a rocky start, but he knew that there was a lot of game left.
“Sure, we made a couple of mistakes early,” Neth said. “We knew we had plenty of time.”
Housy added one more in the fourth inning before they erupted for three runs in the fifth.
After getting the 6-2 lead, Neth started using a variety of pitchers to work on holding the lead. Neth says he has confidence in his pitching, which he added has been a key factor in the championship run.
“I got eight legitimate pitchers,” Neth said. “Our pitching has carried us a little through this state tournament, along with timely hitting and very few errors.”
Stamford started to make a comeback in the sixth inning. They put up three runs to get within one. In the seventh inning, with the score at 6-5, Neth called on his number one on the staff, Evan Pelliccia, to finish the job.
Pelliccia, who received All-Iron division honors at Naugatuck High School in the NVL during the spring, pitched a complete game the first time Housy played Stamford in the tournament, so Neth knew he had to come back with his ace to get the save.
Neth added that he gave the rock to Pelliccia because he is the go-to guy.
“If we were going to hold on to a lead, Pelliccia was our man,” Neth said.
Pelliccia breezed by in the seventh to declare Housatonic Valley state champs.
While Pelliccia has been making great pitches all season, Neth also wanted to point out the guy calling the pitches.
“(Dan Godette), our catcher, has been an important leader for us,” Neth said. “He is really vocal, and he also threw out a few guys in this game.”
Housy will now represent Connecticut in the Babe Ruth New England Regional Tournament, and their first match-up is a tough one.
Housatonic Valley will have to take on Cape Cod, Mass., who is looking for its fifth straight regional title. Neth, however, has all of the confidence in the world and knows that his team can pull it off.
“Our chemistry is good and we’ve had some timely hitting,” Neth said. “It’s going to be like any other game. I am not worried about our pitching and our fielding. If we get some timely hits, I think we’ll be alright.”
The regional game between Connecticut (Housatonic Valley) and Eastern Massachusetts (Cape Cod) is scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m. at a site to be determined.