West Hartford’s Hall High School hosted Enfield Tuesday in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament.
By Paul Palmer
The last time the Hall baseball team won a playoff game, Seth Ehrlich was just a spectator.
“I was a little kid watching my brother play,” said the current Warrior senior of the game against Newtown on May 31, 2016.
In Hall’s latest playoff win, Ehrlich was one of the stars of the game, pitching a complete game, with 11 strikeouts, giving up just three hits and walking no one as the Warriors beat Enfield 3-1 Tuesday. “We talked about how we wanted to approach each batter,” said Hall head coach Nick Marsh. “We wanted to keep them off balance.”
And that is exactly what Ehrlich did, throwing 16 first pitch strikes and a total of 57 strikes out of 78 pitches. “After the first inning I settled in and the guys had my back all day,” said Ehrlich.
The lefty started the game by fanning two of the first three Eagle batters he faced, and followed that by striking out three more in the second inning. Ehrlich, who likes to work fast on the mound, showed patience and maturity as the Eagles decided early on that they would call timeout and step out of the box as much as they could to knock him off his game.
“Every time they stepped out, I’d just throw the next pitch 5 miles an hour faster.”
Hall gave Ehrlich the lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one out and runners on first and second, catcher Tommy LaSpada took a 2-1 pitch and drove it between first base and the Enfield defender to bring Joe Dooley home. The next batter – junior Tucker Redden – singled through the hole between short and third to score Drew Seidman and make it a 2-0 lead.
The game would stay that way until the bottom of the third inning when Redden would blast the first pitch he saw in the inning from Jake Chaplin over the left field wall and put the Warriors up 2. Marsh, who was coaching third base, said he knew what was coming.
“From the time [Redden] started moving his hands I could tell it was gone,” said the fourth-year coach. Redden would go 2-for-3 on the day, with two RBI to lead Hall.
Down to their final six outs, Enfield went to the bench and sent up a pair of pinch hitters in the top of the sixth inning. Ehrlich got one of them on a fine fielding play by first baseman Will Gaumer, and then struck out the next batter. But with two outs, Justin Chaplin doubled off the left field fence and would come around to score on Thomas Kluntz’s single to center. Kluntz would go to third on the throw home to try and get Chaplin. Ehrlich would then strike out Max Chipman to end the inning – and the threat – and he gave a resounding yell as he left the mound.
In their final at bats, Ehrlich got Bryce DiPiero to ground out to short, with Gaumer going way up to snag a high throw. After a groundout back to Ehrlich, Jayden Maynard flew out, fittingly enough, to Redden in right and Hall had the 3-1 win.
“I was trying not to smile before the last out,” Ehrlich admitted after the game.
The win moves Hall, ranked No. 9 in the State and the No. 11 seed in the tourney, to 15-5 on the season, with wins in six of the last seven games. Up next in the second round of the state tournament will be a road game against No. 6 seeded West Haven on Wednesday.
“Except for one or two games this year, we’ve been in every game this year,” said Marsh. “This team doesn’t give up.”
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