Eagles break sixth-inning tie, beat Hearts in NVL baseball quarterfinal

Wolcott’s Jeff Nicol tags out Sacred Heart’s Noah Knappe at the plate
during Wednesday’s NVL quarterfinal at Wolcott HS. (Copyright, Sports on CT-690

Second-seeded Wolcott baseball scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to overtake seventh-seeded Sacred Heart 3-1 in an NVL quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon at Wolcott High School.
That’s the easy explanation.
Here’s what transpired: With the game tied 1-1, Wolcott’s Trey Nastri reached on an error. Sacred Heart pitcher Hector Alejandro got a called third strike on Nick Longo for the first out, though Longo and Eagle supporters certainly didn’t see it that way. Ethan Gillotti singled to make it first and second with one out. Alejandro got another called third strike, this one on Jeff Nicol, for the second out. 

Wolcott’s Jack Drewry delivers a pitch. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

With first and second and two outs, Tino Ciarlo worked a 3-2 count against Alejandro. On the payoff pitch, Ciarlo checked his swing and was given a walk. Alejandro, catcher Evan Laferriere and head coach Eric O’Toole didn’t agree with the call. The Hearts tried to get an appeal from the base umpire. After a short delay, the appeal was made but the call stood.
The Eagles took advantage when the next batter, Dane Hassan, slapped a single to left centerfield, scoring Nastri and Gillotti for a 3-1 lead. Alejandro got Nick Trager to fly out to center to end the inning, but the damage was done.
In the top of the seventh, Wolcott starter Jack Drewry worked around a one-out walk to Jimmy Edwards to seal the win.

Sacred Heart’s Hector Alejandro fires away. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

Drewry and Alejandro both pitched great games, and they were helped out by some strong defensive plays, with the top two coming in the fourth inning. In the top of the fourth, Alejandro pounded a pitch off the left field wall. Noah Knappe tried to score from first, but a perfect relay from centerfielder Tino Ciarlo to the shortstop Gillotti to the catcher Nicol nailed Knappe at the plate. Sacred Heart led Wolcott 1-0 at the time, so it was a big play.
The Hearts turned an Eagle hit-and-run into a nifty 4-6-3 double play and two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Barbieri fielded a grounder, which was hit right at him, and quickly fed the ball to Edwards at shortstop. Edwards fired to first baseman Will Witkoski to complete the double play, and the Sacred Heart bench erupted.
Through four and a half innings, a two-out error for a run was the difference between the Hearts and the Eagles. Wolcott finally caught up in the fifth on a two-out bunt single down the third base line by Trager. The bunt scored Gillotti with the tying run.
The Eagles took the lead in the next inning, and held on for the win. Drewry gave up one unearned run on four hits while Alejandro yielded three runs (one earned) on eight hits and struck out eight.
Wolcott will play St. Paul today at 5 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in an NVL semifinal. The other semifinal between Holy Cross and Seymour is scheduled for 2 p.m.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Wednesday’s game.