Nicolas Piscioniere came within one out of pitching a perfect game when Shelton American defeated Shelton National, 4-0, in the District 3 Major Division winner’s bracket final on Sunday before a large bi-partisan crowd at P.J. Foley Field in Naugatuck.
Piscioniere threw strikes at an exceptional rate, as the right hander needed only 63 pitches to subdue his talented town rival.
He notched his 11th strikeout to get within one batter of setting down 18 consecutive batters, before Josh Loh took an 0-1 pitch into right field for a solid single.
Catcher Payden Larkins made a fine play on Dylan Ziegler’s foul pop by the backstop to close out the victory.
Shelton American, which posted wins of 11-1 over Derby and 5-2 over Union City, will now wait in the finals set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at PJF Field to see which team emerges from the knockout bracket. The if game is Friday at 6.
Piscioniere and Shelton Nationals’ Ziegler put on a strikeout display through four innings. Each had eight strikeouts during this stretch, although the right-handed Ziegler had the tougher time getting his team back in the dugout without giving up a run.
Shelton American, which had stranded seven runners, broke through for three runs in the top of the fifth.
Piscioniere started the rally with a one-out single to center. Ayden Sepkaski then fought off a tough 1-2 pitch from Ziegler and put the ball up the gap. Cam St. Pierre cut off the ball to hold the runners at first and second.
Michael Spadaccino looked to bunt the runners up a base, and got more than he bargained for when the fielder’s choice throw to third resulted in a safe call.
Ziegler accounted for his second strikeout of the frame to bring Austin Leifer to the plate.
Leifer had watched as Ziegler, like Piscioniere, got ahead in the count and had batters fishing the rest of the at bat.
In the fourth in his first at bat, he took a hack at the first pitch he saw and singled to left.
Ziegler then struck out the side, but Leifer had a game plan.
Now in the fifth, he slapped a first-pitch single into left field for a 2-0 lead.
Joe Gigliotti’s hit to the outfield fell in between two fielders to score the third run.
Piscioniere struck out two batters around an assist from Gael Quiroga at shortstop in the home fifth, and Shelton American added another run in the sixth off relief pitcher Ken Supersano.
Connor Fahey drew a walk, went to second on a wild pitch, and beat a strong throw from Cam Woods in right on Larkins’ fly ball.
Ziegler, now at short, went to his right to spear Nick Coppola’s liner before Piscioniere drove in the final run with a single to center.
Ziegler pitched out of a bases loaded one-out jam in the top of the first with a pair of strikeouts.
In the second, Gigliotti singled and Fahey walked but were left stranded.
Shelton National threatened again in the third when Spadaccino drew a two-out walk, but Woods had already robbed Sepkaski of a base hit with a sprinting catch and the rally stalled.
Shelton National put the bat to the ball in the fourth, but came up empty and it was Leifer playing a major role.
Ziegler hit a rising liner that Leifer snared from his third base position for the first out.
Piscioniere put the next out in the book on strikes, before Leifer robbed Woods with a great shoe-top grab.
Shelton National will be in the consolation round final against either Union City or P.J. Foley on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Joy Joy Field in Naugatuck.
They had advanced with a 13-11 win over RAC and then defeated Ansonia 15-0 and P.J. Foley 5-4.
Shelton American is coached by John Larkins, Tom Connery and Greg Coppola. Team members are Paden Larkins, Nick Coppola, Nicolas Piscioniere, Ayden Sepkaski, Michael Spadaccino, Gael Quiroga, Andrew Flamini, Joe Gigliotti, Connor Fahey, Austin Leifer, Jacob Giard and Charlie Connery.
Shelton National is coached by Rick Sobieraj, Mike Sheehy and Mike Kieley. Team members are Dylan Ziegler, Jake Pacacha, Cam Woods, Ryan Miressi, Jack Kieley, Ken Supersano, Cam St. Pierre, Ryan Sheehy, Adam Chaves, Ricky Sobieraj, Louis Scuilla and Josh Loh.