New Milford’s season ends with loss to Fairfield Prep in Class LL opener
NEW MILFORD — The lottery system wasn’t kind to the New Milford baseball team.
A 10-10 record usually guarantees a safe passage into the state tournament. But in this case the Green Wave were forced into the qualifying round — due to being ranked behind six of the nine other teams with the same record — and a matchup against a Fairfield Prep squad only there because of its brutal schedule.
The Jesuits prevailed in a tight contest Saturday, as a sacrifice fly by Henry Schwoerer broke a 2-2 tie and sent Prep to the first round with a 3-2 win. New Milford had its season end at 10-12.
The Green Wave had one chance to tie the game in the seventh with a runner on first and one out, but a double play sent Prep to the next round, where they will meet South Windsor on Tuesday.
“We had our No. 1-2 (pitchers) go and they had their 1-2 pitchers go,” said New Milford coach Ryan Johnson. “It was a pitchers’ duel. They got one more hit than we did. That sac fly was it. There wasn’t too much offensive action.”
It’s a respectable mark considering the Green Wave started 0-7, but a pair of one-run losses in postseason play will likely sting. New Milford let a 6-1 lead slip in its SWC quarterfinal loss to Weston, then couldn’t get the key hits.
A strong team should return next year, most of whom will be senior starters.
“With a young team they don’t understand what it’s all about yet,” Johnson said. “My seniors carried us and then our juniors stepped in; it’s a negative thing now but it should be a positive heading into next season.”
It wasn’t the storybook ending for Green Wave ace Tim Cianciolo, who came on in relief Saturday. He finished off his career on the mound with a fly out to center, then got drilled in the back in the bottom of the seventh in his final at-bat to try to set up a late rally.
“It’s been my blood, sweat and tears for three years,” said Cianciolo. “It’s rough; I’ve played with these guys for a long time. … starting off 0-7 and trying to keep it positive. They looked for me to be their captain and and I feel like I did a good job.”
Cianciolo, who will play baseball at UMass-Boston, left a lifetime of memories on the hill in green and white. He was part of a team that reached the Cal Ripken World Series in 2011.
“My favorite memory was here at home as a sophomore when I had Noah Martinez — who’s now at Central — come up to me and said just have fun. It was the brotherhood right there. I loved it.”
FAIRFIELD PREP 3, NEW MILFORD 2
FAIRFIELD PREP 010 020 0 — 3 7 1
NEW MILFORD 100 100 0 — 2 4 0