The Union City 12U Little League team kept its loser’s bracket surge going on Thursday night, defeating Shelton American, 7-4, at P.J. Foley Field in Naugatuck to force a District 3 Majors Division championship game on Friday night beginning at six.
After losing earlier to Shelton American, 5-2, Union City has now beaten in succession Seymour, P.J. Foley of Naugatuck, Shelton National and Shelton American.
Union City used a big, five-run third inning to take a 5-1 lead before adding two more runs in the fourth.
Shelton’s Ayden Sepkaski hit a three-run homer in the fifth, cutting Union City’s lead to 7-4.
Gael Quiroga kept the rally going with a base hit to right. Payden Laskins followed with a hard line drive, which was caught by UC pitcher Andrew Tyszka who turned it into a double-play.
“This was a tough loss for us,” said Shelton American manager John Larkins. “We hit the ball well all game long, but we hit it right at players too many times. I think we’ll be alright for tomorrow night. Now it’s a matter of getting this group of 12 year-old kids to put this game behind us and turn it around in 24 hours.”
Shelton struck first, pushing across a run in the top of the third, using singles by Michael Spadaccino, Nick Coppola and Nicolas Piscioniere and a fielder’s choice by Sepkaski.
Piscioniere, who earlier in the week had pitched a one-hitter against Shelton National and had beaten Union City, 5-1, on a five-hitter, got into trouble in the bottom half of the inning.
Union City sent nine batters to the plate, collected five of its game-total of eight hits and took advantage of two SA errors to score its runs.
“At this level, you can’t afford to give teams another opportunity, whether it’s on an extra strike, an extra out or an extra pitch,” Larkins said. “I thought Nick pitched well. They’re just a good hitting team and in that inning we made two errors which certainly didn’t help our cause.”
Austin Leifer relieved Piscioniere in the fifth after he hit Tyler Stankey with a pitch, bringing his count to 60.
Lead-off hitter Damon Abate, who had two hits along with Aidan Adanosky, worked Leifer for a walk before Tyszka (the winning pitcher) and Nat Parker produced singles, with Parker’s driving in both Abate and Tyszka.
Nick Coppola (hit-by-pitch) and Piscioniere (reached on a fielder’s choice) were on base when Sepkaski drove a Tyszka well over the fence in left.
“We seem to be playing very well since we’ve had our backs to the wall,” said Union City manager Ed Tyszka. “Tonight, we knew we had to get to them early and then keep our heads up. If they hit the ball, fine. Our goal was to win every inning, and I think we did that pretty well tonight.”
Shelton had six hits, with Spadaccino being the only player with more than one.
It sets up the championship game.
“Tomorrow night will be a dogfight,” Larkins said. “It will really be about who can get the early momentum. We’ve got five kids who can pitch. That should help us. And, they’re all a little different in how they pitch. Hopefully, that to, will work to our advantage.”
A trip to the sectionals will be on the line.