NIGHT GAMES COME TO MIDDLETOWN
Night Games in the MIddletown Little League became a reality in early May. Romegialli Field at Hubbard Park became the first Little League field in town to have lights installed. Scoreboards were added as part of Brandon Souto's Eagle Scout project and a concession stand was also built that serves both Romegialli and Baroni Fields.
On May 8, Mayor Domenique Thornton and LL President Mike D'Ambrose were joined by current and past LL officials, honored guests and several LL teams, and the lights were dedicated in an on-field ceremony. A random drawing was held between the teams that were to participate in the game that followed the ceremony. Rachel Soll of Calico and Ann Marie Guckin of Sebby's Pizza were chosen to turn on the lights.
In photo at right, Mayor Thornton throws ceremonial "first pitch". Don't worry, Your Honor, it was called a strike. But the lights were a true hit!
The first "night game" actually took place the night before, in a test run of the lighting system.
1999 Baseball City Champions - Burger King
1999 O'Rourke Kidney League Champions
Burger King takes City Title
For what is believed to be the first time since Little League started in Middletown in 1948, two teams took the field each with unbeaten records at 18-0 to play for the city championship. Both teams brought a large crowd, both teams wore black uniforms. The only way to figure out which team was which was to find out who the fans wearing the crowns from Burger King were cheering for. Burger King of the O'Rourke-Kidney League backed up the solid pitching of Jim Drobnis by defeating the Portland NAPA team of the Moose League 2-0 at Hubbard Park in Middletown.
Maybe Drobnis could hear the fan who yelled to him and the team to "have it your way" for the game. Drobnis struck out 12 batters and only walked one for the two hit shutout. He struck out every batter in NAPA's lineup at least once.
Burger King took its first run in the bottom of the fourth with Drobnis launching a one-out double that bounced over the right fielder's head. Drobnis then stole third base when catcher Dustin Demonte hit Daniel Condon in the back on the throw down to the bag. Ryan Brainard than doubled to bring in Drobnis.
Greg Pellici pitched four innings for NAPA, and almost matching Drobnis for strikeouts with nine of his own. Pellici gave up only two walks, both to D.J. Hunter. In the fifth, Jon Faass came in to relieve Pellici, who moved out to center field. Burger King's Oliver Herrera came up to bat and led off with a line drive that tipped off the glove of Pellici. A wild pitch moved Herrera over to third, but Toshio Hamilton hit a soft liner that first baseman Cody Wilson had trouble handling. Herrera scored as Wilson picked up the ball and stepped on the bag for the out. NAPA fought back. Drobnis struck out the first two batters he faced but Matt Milardo came up with a two out single to put only the second runner on base for NAPA all game. Milardo moved up to second with a steal, and then a wild pitch brought him around to third. After a issuing his only walk of the game to Pellici, Drobnis struck out Faass to end the game.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E Portland NAPA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 Burger King 0 0 0 1 1 x 2 4 0
1999 Moose League Champions - Portand NAPA
1999 Softball City Champions - Simply Elegant
1999 Regular Season Softball Champions - Calico Productions
The inaugural 9-10 year old All Star State Tournament was held at Hubbard Park from July 30-August 9. Representing their districts were All Star teams from Trumbull, Waterford, Suffield, Shelton, Norwich, Clinton, Newington, Southington and Orange.
Trumbull National 10-year-olds capture inaugural state championship
Article from The Trumbull Times by Mike O'Neill 8/12/99. Reprinted with permission.
1999 9-10 Year-Old State Champion - Trumbull National
The Trumbull National dugout was quiet as pitcher Jeff Blaze threw the pitch toward home plate. The batter from Waterford North started to swing, thought better of it, but couldn't stop in time. His bat and body jerked toward third; the home plate umpire pumped his fist. Strike three!
Blaze's teammates from the Trumbull National All-Star team stormed the mound at Hubbard Park. Under the glow of the lights overhead, they leaped and dove en masse on the pitcher. Trumbull had just won the inaugural 9-10 year-old Little League state tournament with a 4-3 victory over Waterford North.
The celebration continued as the Trumbull players posed for photo after photo with their championship banner. Though sweet, the championship victory was not easy.
All game, Waterford threatened. They left 14 runners on base in the game, including the bases loaded in the first, second and fifth innings. But Waterford's first inning run was the only tally after four innings.
Trumbull scored two in the top of the fifth to take the lead. James Cormier started it off by punching a one-out single to left and advancing to third on two wild pitches. After another out, Lou Tarantino worked a walk, bringing Wyatt Clarke to the plate. Clarke hit a slow roller past the mound, but beat the shortstop's throw to first, scoring Cormier. Chris Wowk then sharply singled to left to drive-in Tarantino with the go-ahead run.
Waterford threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. But with the bases loaded, Trumbull pitcher Jeff Blaze fielded a hard shot back to the mound, going home for the second out and moments later, after fielding an identical shot, Blaze threw to first base for the final out.
Blaze led off the Trumbull sixth with an infield single. One out later, Doug Martin punched a hard grounder up the middle. The ball took a bad hop by the center fielder and rolled to the fence. Blaze scored and Martin ended up on third. Cormier came to bat and hit a hard shot back to the mound. Waterford pitcher Robby Bono made a fine fielding play and looked Martin back to third and threw to first for the second out. Martin alertly headed home and beat the relay throw to score Trumbull's fourth run.
Waterford North scored two in the bottom of the fifth and had the tying run on third and the winning run on first with two outs. Blaze bore down and got the game ending strikeout and the celebration began.
But not without a price; while his teammates jumped for joy on the field, Blaze remained on the ground, holding his pitching arm in pain. It turned out his arm had been fractured, although not seriously, in the spontaneous celebration. Nevertheless, Blaze got to his feet and re-joined his team for the awarding of their championship pins.
It was the third meeting of the tournament for these two teams. Waterford took the first meeting 10-8 and Trumbull won the second game 4-0, setting up the third game for the state championship.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E Trumbull National 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 7 2 Waterford North 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 5 1 Batteries: Trumbull: Wyatt Clarke, Jeff Blaze (4) and
John Bazzano, Ryan Perkins (4).
Waterford: Robby Bono and Anthony Malhoit.
WP: Blaze LP: Bono
1999 9-10 Year-Old State Runner Up - Waterford North
1999 9-10-Year-Old All Star State Championship Bracket
All games held at Hubbard Park, Middletown - July 30 to August 9, 1999.
Middletown American Legion Post 75 hosted the American Legion World Series in August at Bill Pomfret Stadium at Palmer Field.