BRISTOL -- Just 180 feet away from Milford's first American Legion state baseball title in the bottom of the ninth, Nick Pinto saw the ball go through the third baseman, saw manager Cliff Bugyi telling him to score, saw a championship around one turn.
"I saw Booj telling me to go, telling me to go," Pinto said. "I got on my horse and got going."
He scored the winning run in Milford's 6-5 win over RCP on Friday night in the state final. Milford won all five games it played in the tournament, only once winning by more than two runs.
"It's an incredible feeling," Pinto said.
RCP (Rocky Hill, Cromwell and Portland) took leads of 3-0 and 5-1. Milford scrapped its way to four runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie it.
Walks to Pinto and Kyle Winters, and Ed Michaud's grounder to third that turned into RCP's third error, won it.
"I've been here three times. I guess the third time was the charm," said Bugyi, whose teams made the final in 2001 and 2009. "This is what you play for. You play to get into the tournament, and then take it one game at a time."
The next game is Thursday in the Northeast Regional at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where Milford (27-6) will first face the host team.
Bugyi wasn't certain about his team's pitching staff earlier in the tournament.
But he got a few innings from a lot of people, including tournament MVP, shortstop Christian Baglini, who pitched the ninth inning and became the winning pitcher after getting three fly balls.
Matt Ferraiolo pitched the first eight, grinding out 166 pitches (112 in the first five innings).
"He's crazy," Pinto said. "He's always been like that. You need a job done, he'll do it."
The first three batters of the game got hits, and soon enough RCP had three runs. An assortment of little plays gave RCP two more in the fourth.
"The first couple of innings, I was actually drained," Ferraiolo said. "My legs were so tired. I just had to battle. I gave up a lot of runs early."
Some miscues contributed, he was told.
"Five runs is still on me. The team battled back. They stayed in the game. We're used to battling."
Milford scored in the first, coincidentally, on a couple of walks and an error, but RCP seemed to be in control in the middle of the fourth.
"We were tight as a drum," Bugyi said. "That's not how we play. We're usually loosey-goosey."
NOTES: Milford players on the all-tournament team were third baseman Michaud, shortstop Baglini, outfielder Sean Cameron, pitcher Ferraiolo and catcher Zanghi as a utility player
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RCP......................................300 200 000--5 9 3
MILFORD..............................100 400 001-- 6 7 3