Sheehan connects twice, pitches three-hitter as Waterford takes Section 3 title
Waterford — Waterford won the first inning.
After losing to Clinton earlier in the week in the round-robin portion of the Connecticut Section 3 Little League baseball tournament for ages 10-12, Waterford made it to the championship game Saturday, a rematch with Clinton.
Waterford's defense got Clinton out in order in the top of the first, then Waterford No. 3 hitter Colby Sheehan hit his first of two line-drive home runs in the game in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead.
Waterford won the first inning and that made things easier the rest of the way.
The outcome was an 8-0 Waterford victory, sending manager Josh Sheppard's team to the State Final Four beginning Wednesday in Stamford. Waterford will take on Section 4 champion Manchester beginning at 7:30 p.m.
"I told them that sometimes with a loss, there's a lot that can be learned," Sheppard said, referencing the 5-2 loss to Clinton on Thursday. "We can't fold.
"The loss to East Lyme (in the District 10 tournament that sent Waterford to the losers' bracket) was the biggest heartbreaking loss I've ever seen in my life on a walk-off when we had dominated. This was the same situation. We've got to come back and grind. We've got to come back and work harder. I've had this group since they were 8 or 9 years old. I guess I must say something right.
"This Clinton ballclub is a really good ballclub."
Sheehan not only went 3-for-3 with two homers and four RBI, he pitched a complete-game, 67-pitch shutout. Because he was under 65 headed to the final batter, that makes him eligible to pitch Wednesday's Final Four opener.
"His role today was just dominating," Sheppard said of Sheehan, headed to the eighth grade at Clark Lane Middle School. "He took the wind out of their sails (with the home run in the first)."
The reason the first inning was so impressive: Sheehan, Waterford's usual shortstop, was on the mound. Backup shortstop JT Sheppard broke his left arm earlier in the tournament and watched Saturday from the bench. All three balls hit by Clinton in the first inning then went to shortstop, where fill-in Dustin Powers gobbled them up.
"It let us get our energy started," Sheehan said of the first inning. "Our team is good."
Sheehan finished with a three-hitter, striking out six and walking none. Sheppard said Waterford walked 10 Clinton hitters on Thursday among three pitchers.
Leading 1-0 Saturday, Waterford piled on five runs in the third inning, sending 10 men to the plate, finishing with five hits and taking advantage of two Clinton errors and a wild pitch.
Luke Wilson led off the inning with a deep single down the right field line and Carson Gallerani followed with a single up the middle, bringing Sheehan to the plate once more. Sheehan reached out his bat and rifled a second home run, this time over the center field fence, scoring Wilson and Gallerani to give Waterford a 4-0 lead.
Brooks Lane singled up the middle and Jake Turner followed with an infield single to the pitcher, who then threw the ball away putting runners on second and third. Lucas Racicot's fielder's choice to second base scored pinch runner Kian Gordy, in for Lane, and Turner scored on a wild pitch for a 6-0 lead.
Sheehan and Lane singled with one out in the fourth and Turner ripped a two-run double down the left field line to extend the advantage to 8-0.
"They came to play, offensively, defensively, in the dugout," Sheppard said of his team. "They give up their whole summer — I'm sure they'd want to go to Six Flags or something. But every single person plays a role. They're into the game up here (mentally) and physically."
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