BERLIN – Temperatures nearing 100 degrees, a two-hour stoppage for thunder, pouring rain and a 6 p.m. graduation were only some of the obstacles St. Paul baseball encountered in its Class S semifinal game at Zippadeli field in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon.
The 1 p.m. game took nearly five hours to finish as every form of weather made an appearance during the Falcons’ clash with No. 28 Immaculate. St. Paul entered the break with a 4-0 lead, which they squandered once play resumed, only to come back and win 12-8 and earned a place in the Class S state championship game.
“I’m probably going to show up [to graduation] in uniform and be late, but it’s worth it,” senior Shaun Remillard said. “We won, we’re going to play for a state championship. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Remillard’s double in the fifth inning erased a two-run deficit for St. Paul and put it in a position to take the lead later that frame. The Falcons are returning to the final game of the season for the sixth time in school history and first time since 2016 when they defeated Morgan for a championship. They will face the winner of third-seeded Coginchaug and 23rd-seeded Northwest Catholic.
“We’re having a pretty good run, we’ve had some success and we’re going to work the next few days,” head coach Vic Rinaldi said. “We’re not done yet, we want to have a good showing in the championship and see what we can do.”
Two hits and an error gave St. Paul three base runners with one out and junior catcher Casey Cerruto singled to bring in the first two runs of the game. The third run of the inning came when Immaculate catcher Thomas Fahey threw the ball into the outfield on a double steal. A sacrifice fly from junior Mario Izzo brought in the final run of the inning and after one more half inning of play, the first crack of thunder sounded.
“We were in a groove and all of a sudden we have to go [through] an almost two-hour weather delay,” junior Mario Izzo said. “We come back, we still have the same energy, we still picked it back up.”
Senior Owen Davis started the game on the mound for St. Paul and was hard to hit in this first four innings of work. He retook the mound after the thunder delay and did not display the control of his pitches he had prior, putting four of the five batters he saw on base. He was then replaced with sophomore Jamie Leggett who was able to escape the jam, but not before letting Immaculate post six runs in the frame to take the lead.
The Falcons retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning behind a pair of walks followed by a double to deep right field from senior Shaun Remillard that plated both runners and tied the game. Remillard tagged up on a fly ball from Brendan Foley scored the third run of the inning to go ahead 7-6. They were threatening to score more, but stranded two runners at the end of the inning.
“We were a little bit down after giving up the six in the top of the fifth,” Rinaldi said. “It would have been easy to put our heads down and pack it in, but our guys did a good job and didn’t. Shaun had that huge hit for us and jolted us and got us right back into the game.”
Insurance came in the following inning when St. Paul took advantage of a series of defensive struggles from Immaculate and added five more runs, forcing the Mustangs to score six runs in the final half inning on offense.
Leggett went until his team was one out away from the win. He allowed two walks and two hits, which turned into two runs for the Mustangs with two outs. Izzo faced the final two batters of the game and got the final out to secure a chance at a state championship.
“The seniors wanted to finish the game, they didn’t care about graduation,” Izzo said. “They wanted to be here as a team, as a family. Now we won and we’re going to graduation. Two wins.”