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Wednesday, March 21 Sports

Defending Class L champion New Canaan elminated by Cheney Tech

MANCHESTER -- There will be a new Class L baseball champion in 2014.

No. 9 New Canaan saw its quest to win back-to-back titles come to a disappointing end Tuesday following a 7-1 second-round loss at No. 8 Cheney Tech. Beavers starter Isiah Quiles tossed a complete game, allowing only two hits after the second inning, as he went 2-4 with two RBIs at the plate. JR Anderson took the loss for the Rams (15-7) in four-plus innings of work.

"I think as a team, we didn't come out the way we're supposed to come out," said New Canaan Mitch Hoffman. "We came out a little flat and looking for the next guy to do the job, and it didn't happen."

Down 1-0 after a Zack Smith RBI single, Cheney Tech plated four runs in the home half of the second inning, all with two outs. With runners on second and third, Anderson allowed the tying run to cross on a wild pitch to No. 9 hitter Donaber Rojas, who then gave his team the lead on a base hit to center. Second baseman Elvin Gonzalez followed with a double, putting two runners in scoring position for Quiles.

The 5-foot-8 hurler stepped in and quickly aided his own cause by dropping a single into right field that pushed the Beavers' edge to 4-1.

"These guys scouted us big," Cheney Tech coach Gary Marineau said. "(Hoffman) knew everything about us, but you can't scout heart."

In the bottom of the third, the Beavers tacked on another run via a perfectly executed suicide squeeze. The designated home team collected five hits over the middle innings, while the Rams stalled at the plate.

One at-bat after New Canaan had registered its first hit in 11 plate appearances, junior Alex LaPolice grounded into a perfect 4-6-3 double play to close the top of the fifth. One inning later, Nick Cascione smashed a line drive with two outs, only to watch Beaver shortstop Merlyn Herrera snare it with a leaping grab.

Cascione, a senior who will play football at Sacred Heart University next fall, is one member of a historic graduating class that Hoffman lauded post-game for bringing the program to new heights.

"These seniors are a big part of the future and the foundation of this program," Hoffman said. "And the young guys need to recognize that and appreciate that. I'm going to miss this group a lot."

Senior captain Matt Toth entered in relief of Anderson in the bottom of the fifth frame, when Cheney Tech scored twice more on defensive miscues. As runners stood on first and third, Smith fired down to second base to try and nail Beaver catcher Tom Blazys on a steal attempt, but his throw skipped into centerfield, allowing Herrera to score.

In the next at-bat, Blazys came home on a passed ball to push the score to 7-1.

Despite allowing the first two runners aboard to open the seventh inning, Quiles locked in to record three straight outs and end the game.

"It made me want to throw even better," Quiles said of playing the defending champs. "I was loose. I was feeling good and confident in myself."

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Cheney Tech 7, New Canaan 1

NEW CANAAN 010 000 0--1 5 1

CHENEY TECH 041 200 0--7 9 0

Records: New Canaan 15-7, Cheney Tech 16-6. Batteries: NC--JR Anderson (L), Matt Toth (5) and Zack Smith; CT--Isiah Quiles (W) and Tom Blazys. Highlights: NC--Zack Smith hit an RBI single in the top of the second. Senior captain Matt Toth allowed zero earned runs in two innings of relief. CT-- Starting pitcher Isian Quiles tossed a complete game and went 2-4 with a pair of RBIs. Steve Breault doubled and scored two runs.