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New Canaan Baseball Makes First Finals in 40 Years

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – An offensive explosion 40 years in the making catapulted the New Canaan baseball team to its first state championship game since 1972. The 24th-ranked Rams continued their Cinderella run Tuesday in the Class L state playoffs, manhandling Sheehan of Wallingford in the semis, 8-4.

New Canaan lost six of its final nine games in the regular season, but the Rams caught fire at just the right time. New Canaan’s offense has pounded the ball in the state tournament, collecting 49 hits and scoring 28 runs over the last four games.

“Coming into the year, we were expecting big things, but the regular season didn’t go the way we necessarily wanted it to. But we couldn’t ask for a better run than the one we’re on,” New Canaan starter J.R. Anderson said. “We’re the 24th-seed — what do we have to lose? We’ve been the underdogs in every game, but we just play our game.”

Anderson pitched six-plus stellar innings, scattering six hits, striking out one and not giving up a run until the sixth. Anderson went on a stretch from the second through the fifth inning in which he did not allow a Sheehan runner past first base.

The Rams caught momentum early when Anderson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first. After getting Sheehan’s Andy Mazzone to end the threat, New Canaan benefited from a little luck on three straight infield singles.

Nick Cascione drove in the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly, and Alex Oulette drove in a pair with a seeing-eye single up the middle to take a 3-0 lead. New Canaan built its advantage to 6-0 in the top of the third on RBI singles by Dan Rajkowski and Gogo Jones and a wild pitch.

“We just started getting aggressive. We’re young and maybe this is what happens when you’re young – you just keep getting better,” New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said, who pointed out that he hadn't been born the last time the Rams were in the state finals. “We’re going to end it on the last game we can ultimately play and hopefully end it on a good note.”

The Rams will take on third-ranked Fitch High of Groton on Saturday at Palmer Field in Middletown for the Class L state championship at a time to be announced. New Canaan is searching for its first state baseball title since 1950.

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