Conard hosted New Milford in West Hartford Tuesday in the first round of the Class LL baseball playoffs.
By Sam Newton. Photos by Adam Giroux
In a tightly contested pitcher’s duel on a steamy afternoon in West Hartford, the home team Conard High School (14-7) defeated the visiting team New Milford Green Wave (12-9) by the score of 2-1 in the first round of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) State Class LL Tournament.
Conard senior pitcher Nick Kane turned in a stellar performance on the mound, going the distance as the Chieftains held off a late one-run rally by the Green Wave in the top half of the seventh inning.
The second-year coach of the Chieftains, Brendan Smith, spoke about Kane’s performance as key to the win. “I think the first thing was Nick Kane was great today. He’s been the guy all year, he’s been the guy we’ve relied on.” The future Sacred Heart player threw 98 pitches while only allowing 5 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and striking out 10 to earn Conard a spot in the second round.
The New Milford pitcher, sophomore Jason Muller, also had a sharp outing going six innings and giving up 8 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. However, the Conard offense, led by Jake Samela and Matt Santoro with two hits apiece, and an RBI by Kane’s younger brother, John Kane, scored 2 runs in the second inning which proved to be enough as the Chieftains held off the Green Wave.
The two runs were scored by Santoro and Ryan Smith, who also were the only two Conard players to steal bases Tuesday afternoon.
“Offensively, we just did the right things,” coach Smith said. “We left a few guys on base and made a few mistakes but got the runs across we needed, and it was enough to get us through.”
Conard, seeded 14th, will be on the road on Wednesday, traveling to meet No. 3 seed Fairfield-Warde (18-3) which defeated Simsbury 8-4 on Tuesday.
This marks the first time Conard has won a home playoff game since 2013, and the first time any playoff game was won since 2017. Coach Smith also noted this was Conard’s best regular season record since 2009.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.