MERIDEN - With two outs in the top of the seventh inning and trailing Stamford 2-0 Bristolâ€™s Evan Bouchard watched the ball fly off his bat into right at Ceppa Field in Meriden.
Stamford right fielder Anthony Possidento had a routine play lined up for him and a state title victory all but locked down for his team.
Then the ball was dropped.
Both Kyle Lauretti and Nick Ruffino came into score for Bristol tying the game 2-2 as Stamfordâ€™s bench had already cleared thinking the game was over.
â€śI knew I had to do something,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śI wasnâ€™t going to let my team down because we fought so hard this season so I put it in play, I looked up and I saw he dropped it and I donâ€™t think Nick on third base realized and I was waving him to go and then he scored. It was a crazy feeling that I canâ€™t explain.â€ť
Momentum was shifted then Bristolâ€™s Joe Crowley and Nick Ruffino each had RBI in the top of the eighth inning, Crowley a RBI single to right field and Ruffino a bases loaded walk to lead Bristol past Stamford 4-3 and and capture its second 17U state title, the first since 2011 when it also beat Stamford.
Trevor Mays got the start on the mound for Bristol and was dominant pitching all eight innings and battling to the final out when he forced a groundout by Stamfordâ€™s Mike Berlingo to seal the victory and leave the bases loaded as Bristol charged the field to celebrate.
Mays finished the game with one strikeout, letting his defense do its work behind him.
â€śIt was definitely the best game of my career, no doubt,â€ť Mays said. â€śIt was probably one of the closest. I had a lot of adrenaline and it felt really good to get the win.â€ť
Mays was awarded the MVP of the game with his performance.
He was able to pitch deep into the game by keeping his pitch count down, including a six pitch second inning, forcing two ground outs and a fly out.
â€śHis average per inning is about 11 pitches per inning and he was able to stick under that today,â€ť Bristol coach Bill Mason said. â€śWe made our plays on defense and just got timely hitting and were able to do what we needed to do.â€ť
Stamfordâ€™s starting pitcher Matthew Tiplady was dominant in the game, the big reason behind Bristol being shutout throughout the first 6 1/3 innings before getting taken out.
Tiplady had seven strikeouts in his performance and didnâ€™t allow a run.
He gave way to Noam Haron on the mound with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
A hard fought win was the Bristol way.
â€śWe knew we werenâ€™t out of it,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śDuring the whole game and the whole season our coaches have been telling us weâ€™re a state championship team. We work hard everyday in practice to get to this point and Iâ€™m just so glad we won it.â€ť
With the win Bristol advances to the Northeast Regional Tournament being held in Windsor Locks August 10-12 at Veterans Memorial Park.