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Article Published August 9, 2020

East Haven Wins Two Playoff Games Before Losing in Semifinals

By By Dan Fappiano

The East Haven U-19 baseball team finished its regular season in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association (CEBA) on a down note by losing 10 of its last 11 games on the slate. However, once East Haven started postseason play, the athletes on co-Head Coach Kevin Sabin’s squad put the struggles behind them and went on an exciting playoff run. East Haven earned victories versus North Haven and Orange to advance to CEBA’s Division II Tournament semifinals, where the team saw its season end with a loss against Hamden. East Haven finished the year with an overall record of 8-13.

During the final two weeks of the regular season, East Haven’s only victory was a 2-1 win over Milford on July 22. Still, Coach Sabin said that his team continued to battle all the way through the last out of every game, regardless of the outcome.

“We started off hot, and boy did we get cold. West Haven beat us in a game pretty handily. Wallingford beat us in a game pretty handily. But the majority of the games were close,” Sabin said. “Even though the record wasn’t what we would have liked it to have been, we were still battling. The kids did not give up.”

East Haven posted a record of 6-12 for the regular season and was the No. 8 seed in the Division II Tournament. On July 31, East Haven hosted No. 9 seed North Haven for a play-in game and prevailed by a 2-1 score to advance to the quarterfinal round.

Jake Marquardt pitched a complete game for East Haven in the victory, allowing just one run to go with 10 strikeouts. At the plate, Marquardt, Giro Esposito, and Dominic Golia all had hits for East Haven. Marquardt hit a triple in the third inning and came around to score following an errant throw by North Haven.

In the fourth inning, Noah Danz reached on an error, stole third base, and scored on another North Haven error to give East Haven a 2-0 lead. North Haven plated its lone run of the game in the fifth inning to make it 2-1, which held up as the final score.

“Jake had the big triple. Gianni Mumford was on first, and we gave him the steal sign. He was safe by a mile, but the ball got away, and Jake scored. Our other run came from another error, and we were able to capitalize on it,” Coach Sabin said. “Sometimes you get a game where you’re up big and the pitcher just coasts. This wasn’t one of them. Jake showed real grit on the mound. Mike Streeto called a perfect game from behind the plate. In terms of catchers, put him up there against anybody.”

On Aug. 1, East Haven traveled to take on No. 1 seed Orange, which had finished first in the Division II standings, for a quarterfinal contest. Orange had just swept a doubleheader from East Haven one week earlier, but with the money on the line in the playoffs, East Haven came away with a 4-1 victory.

Mumford got the start on the mound and pitched 6.1 innings for East Haven, giving just one run while striking out 13. Sabin called Mumford’s performance one of the best that he saw all season as East Haven eliminated the top seed from the tournament.

East Haven scored all of four of its runs in the fourth inning against Orange. Coach Sabin’s club used three walks and clutch singles from John Crisci and Mike O’Connor to put up the four-spot.

“Any win is important, but boy were these kids pumped after the Orange game,” said Sabin. “It really lifted our spirits, and we were excited to move on and play Hamden.”

Unfortunately for East Haven, its CEBA season came to a close when the team took an 10-0 loss to No. 5 seed Hamden in the Division II semifinals. Hamden went on to earn a 2-1 win over Wallingford in the championship game. Despite the defeat, Coach Sabin said that he was proud of his team for persevering through the rough patch to make some noise in the playoffs this summer.

In addition to the efforts of his players, Sabin also appreciates everything that co-Head Coach Rich Marquardt did for the team. Sabin said that Marquardt was especially helpful when it came to working with East Haven’s pitching staff throughout the season. East Haven’s top three pitchers were Jake Marquardt, Mumford, and John Crisci.

“Rich did the pitching. He monitored all the pitch counts. That was Rich’s thing,” Sabin said. “Rich was all over those pitchers, making sure that the kids had the right amount of rest. He had that down to a science. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

The roster for East Haven’s CEBA baseball team featured Crisci, Danz, Esposito, Golia, Marquardt, Mumford, O’Connor, and Streeto, along with CJ Lombardi, Thomas Sabin, and Andrew Voira. As the season progressed, Coach Sabin saw his athletes come together and work as a cohesive unit in their quest to see success. Some players have graduated from high school, while others will be returning to the field next spring. Sabin hopes that each and every one of them learned something about what it takes to be a leader as a result of competing in the CEBA.

“The biggest takeaway for the younger kids is that they saw the leadership of the older kids. This was not a team that said, ‘What’s wrong with you? How can you miss that throw?’ when mistakes got made. There was none of that,” said Sabin. “Not only were the coaches trying to pick the kids up, but the kids were picking themselves up.”