WATERBURY — The Naugatuck 10U Willie Mays team reached the postseason for the first time in three seasons and played for a chance to reach the World Series in Rockford, Ill.
The state tournament featured Naugatuck, Cheshire, Overlook and the Hit Club in a double-elimination showdown at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury over the weekend.
“Making the tournament for the first time was a real feather in our cap,” head coach Rich Kilmer said. “These kids have been together for three years now and we took our lumps the past few seasons.”
Naugatuck faced elimination on Saturday after falling, 5-4, July 10 to Overlook.
Shane Cruz went five innings on the mound against Cheshire. Mike Clemente came on in relief and struck out the final batter with runners at the corner to give Naugatuck an 11-8 win.
Matt Kilmer and Anthony Abate scored in the first inning as Kenny Pratt delivered an RBI hit. Matt Stefan scored after two long fly ball outs from Mike Smith and Dylan Sepulveda in the second inning.
Cheshire tied the game for the second inning in a row and the damage would have been worse if not for catcher Mike Russin, who threw out a runner trying to steal a base.
Naugatuck scored seven runs in the third. Kilmer and Pratt hit two-run doubles.
Clemente, Blake Stone and Brady Evon added RBI hits to hand Naugatuck a 10-3 advantage.
“These kids put in all the work practicing three times a week for 12 weeks prior to the start of the season,” Kilmer said. “Our hitting become consistent and the team became better adept at knowing game situations.”
Naugatuck fell, 11-4, to the Hit Club in the second game of the day on Saturday. The Hit Club and Overlook advanced to the World Series as Naugatuck’s (16-6-1) season ended.
“Our defense wasn’t as sharp as it was during the season as we were giving extra outs that cost us,” Kilmer said. “But I’m so proud of the way these kids battled back against Cheshire after a tough loss the night before. It was a great experience for the kids to get this far in the season.”