Before Saturday’s state final at Palmer Field in Middletown, J.T. Lanese recounted how at the halfway point of the season, he and his teammates were focused on not being the worst Foran Baseball team of all-time. The Lions were 1-11. But since then, Foran won 10 of 12 games and found themselves in the state championship game–in improbable fashion–as the No. 32 seed against North Haven and the mind of five-time state champion manager Bob DeMayo.
“And now, we have the chance to become probably the best team in school history,” Lanese–a senior shortstop and captain–said.
Lanese said that the team would take a page out of the book of a team that had won four-straight state championships entering Saturday–Southern Connecticut Conference rival Amity– and play “backyard loose.” He set the tone almost immediately with a monster home run to right-center field to put the Lions up 2-0 in the top of the 1st inning.
Starter Nick Hartley ran into trouble in the fourth inning with the Lions up 5-0. North Haven plated two runs and loaded the bases with two outs. Coach Garrett Walker went to the ‘pen and turned to Chris Goglia. The senior struck out Craig Somma and pumped his fist on the way back to the dugout. Goglia pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief of Hartley, preserving an 8-2 victory for the Lions–their first state title in school history.
“I knew I had to get my pitches in the right spots,” Goglia said. “I think I did that very well. I was feeling good all game. I knew my stuff was on. It’s great knowing that we were the worst seed in this tournament. We came out on top. It’s great knowing that we were the first for Foran.”
Lanese finished the game going two-for-three with a home run, a walk, and two RBI.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet that we’ve won. It just shows how hard we worked during the regular season.”
The Lions finish 2017 with 12-13 record. They are the first-team to ever win a state baseball title with a record under .500.
In the semifinals, North Haven’s Brendan Clark threw 63 pitches in relief and did not allow a hit in five innings, propelling the Indians to their second state championship berth in three years. Because of the efficient effort by the senior, DeMayo knew he could throw Clarke for as many pitches necessary to get the job the done Saturday. The new CIAC pitch-count rules that were adopted for the 2017 season require two days rest for someone who throws between 51 and 75 pitches in a given outing. Clark’s last appearance against Fitch (Groton) went down Wednesday.
After Luca Lawrence allowed two runs in just two-thirds of an inning, DeMayo went to Clark. He subsequently allowed an RBI single to Mike Leson. Clark pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. A two-run single by John Lickting in the fourth, followed by a two-run blast by Leson in the fifth against Clark essentially put the game away for Foran.
With the loss, North Haven ends 2017 with an 18-7 mark.
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