Tolland Little League Juniors win state title
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Wed., Jul. 31, 2013
The Tolland Little League Juniors cruised through their division and state tournament to become state champions on July 28, after an 8-0 rout of Canton/Granby at Old Tavern Field in Orange.
Coach Scott Curtis said his team got to the title game with a “total team effort,” and pointed to a play in the last inning where right-fielder Luke Alderstein hustled after a ball driven short into the outfield and was able to fire to first to get the runner out, as an example of the hard work the team has put in, regardless of the situation.
“He's playing alert and he's focused,” Curtis said. “We always talk about Tolland baseball, and what we want Tolland baseball to represent. That's probably a microcosm of what it is.”
Curtis's son Matt threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout, in which he struck out six, but the coach said that the team effort played into that, as well. “He was grinding it out there in the beginning, but then when we scored our first run, that settled him in,” he said. “That's a total team thing, because the offense kicked in, and you could see his confidence grow.”
The game was tight early on, and was 0-0 after two innings. Tolland was able to scratch a run across in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but Canton/Granby was getting men on base.
Tolland widened the gap in the sixth, with a five-run rally that included hits by Matt Curtis, Sean Kelly, Andrew Jaworski and Clayton Keane, and a two-run double by Kyle Boutot.
“They battle all the way to the last out,” Curtis said, adding that there were a lot of small moments in the game that spurred the team on.
Tolland had swept the district tournament, 3-0, and improved to 4-0 in the state tournament, in which they beat all previous teams via the mercy rule. Tolland Juniors also won the state title in 2012, and five of the players remained from that squad.
“They set the tone for success, and then these guys had that feeling that they can do well,” Curtis said. “That means good stuff for Tolland baseball in the future.”
At press time, Tolland was scheduled to travel to Freehold, N.J., for the Eastern Regionals, and will face either Massachussets or New Jersey on Aug. 4.
“They're just a great bunch of kids,” Curtis said of his players. “They like each other and they love playing together.”