BETHL -- As the third-seeded Newtown High baseball team got set to take on top-seeded Pomperaug in the SWC Championship at Bethel High School Saturday night, Newtown coach Matt Memoli expected a battle.
"I came into this thinking a 2-1, 3-2 type ball game would be enough," Memoli said. "Those are the games we've always had against (Pomperaug)."
It turned out Memoli did not give his Hawks enough credit. Newtown used a complete game from junior pitcher Brandon Marks and an 11-run seventh inning to shock the top-seeded Panthers by a core of 18-1. The win broke a 21-game winning streak for Pomperaug, which last lost a game on April 4 to New Fairfield in a non-league game.
Marks, the tournament's most valuable player, scattered eight hits over his seven innings of work. Marks said he learned a lot from his last start against the Panthers.
"Last time I went out against them I didn't throw too many fastballs, I was praying they wouldn't expect the curveball," Marks said. "Tonight I knew I needed to establish the fastball early on and that's what I did and I got them off balance with it."
Newtown scored two runs off of Pomperaug pitcher Andy Reel in the top of the first inning highlighted by an RBI double from sophomore Mike Davis. Reel settled down after the first inning, though and held the Newtown bats quiet into the top of the fourth inning.
Then in the top of the fourth, with the score 2-0, Newtown had the bases loaded and two outs when lead-off hitter Evan Noonan stepped to the plate. Reel threw a wild pitch to the backstop, for what looked to be an easy Newtown run. However, pinch-runner Reid Schmidt missed home plate, Pomperaug ended tagged home plate for the out, and the threat was over.
"Those plays early on... could have really hurt us," Memoli said. "But the way the guys responded just shows it's a pretty special group of guys."
Newtown's responded by scoring three runs in the top of the fifth, which was sparked by an RBI triple from senior Kyle Wilcox, which hit the base of the left field wall. Newtown tacked on two more in the top of the sixth on another drive by Wilcox that reached the left field wall. After Pomperaug scratched out a run in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 7-1 game headed into the last inning, things fell apart for the Panthers.
Newtown scored 11 runs in the top of the seventh inning, but only on four hits. Seven Pomperaug errors in the inning aided the Hawks.
Pomperaug Head Coach Mike Eisenbach said his team needs to move forward.
"Newtown stuck it to us and we can't change anything that happened out there," Eisenbach said. "Everything that could have gone wrong today, so hopefully we got it out of our system moving forward."
Both teams will move on to play in the Class LL State Tournament. Pomperaug will be the second-seed and Newtown will be the 13th seed.
The title was Newtown's first SWC title since 2009. Memoli said he could not be prouder of his players.
NEWTOWN 2 0 0 0 3 2 11 -- 18 13 0
POMPERAUG 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 -- 1 8 11
Records: Newtown 17-6, Pomperaug 21-2. Batteries: N - Brandon Marks (W) and Michael Allwein.