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New London completes its comeback with Babe Ruth 15 state championship sweep of Waterford

Jul. 17—MILFORD — New London lost to Waterford just about a week ago by a run, a game New London manager Derrel Mitchell felt his players "weren't themselves."

And so New London saw a lot of Milford this week, just about every day while toiling in the losers' bracket, while it maintained its goal of getting back to the championship round for a rematch against the neighboring team from Waterford.

New London won the first game of the Babe Ruth 15-year-old division championship round Friday night and drew a 10 a.m. start time Saturday morning for the finale in the double-elimination tournament ... not much time in between trips down I-95. New London won the state championship Saturday 10-0, the same definitive margin as it won Friday night, advancing to the New England Regional next week in Trumbull.

"For us to come up here every day, we didn't want to make coming here Saturday morning worthless," Mitchell said. "We wanted to make it worth something."

"We really wanted to win," New London No. 7 hitter Martin Light said, clutching the game ball after he drove in three runs and scored twice in the victory. "I got up at 7ish, 6:50, actually. ... It was a lot of work (to win from the losers' bracket). We knew we could win it. It feels good, especially since we lost the first one to them."

New London scored nine times in the second inning, transferring its momentum from the Friday night win via the mercy rule into Saturday's early innings.

Light started the second inning with a triple over the center fielder's head and Kolby Quinn followed with a triple to the left-center field gap to make it 1-0.

With one out, Ralphie Sanchez walked and Waterford intentionally walked Derrel Mitchell, the manager's son and dangerous No. 2 hitter, to load the bases. Chris Tonucci was then hit with a pitch which glanced off his helmet to force in the second run. Sid Bulushu singled on a line over the shortstop's head to drive in two more runs, making it 4-0.

With two outs, Ryan Ziegler walked to load the bases once again, which brought Light, New London's center fielder, back to the plate.

Light drilled a double to the left-center field gap which cleared the bases, giving him a double, triple and three RBI in the same inning. He took third on an infield single by Quinn, who also had two hits in the inning, and both scored on a single to center field by Landon Hill.

In all, New London sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and connected for six hits.

New London scored its final run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Quinn, who finished 3-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. Bulushu was also 3-for-4 with a walk. New London left 14 more runners on base.

Meanwhile, Derrel Mitchell, who pitched three innings Friday, threw under 45 pitches in that game, which made him eligible by state rules to pitch again Saturday. He started and worked four innings, scattering three hits — two of them infield singles — before being relieved by Ziegler.

Mitchell has an unusual windup, sometime extending the pause before he delivers to the plate.

Derrel Mitchell, the manager, said he taught the delivery to his son after seeing something similar from former New London standout Lelo Martinez.

"The No. 1 thing (Saturday) was stay hydrated, stay cool," Derrel, the pitcher, said. "And then keep them off balance."

New London opens play in the New England tournament on Friday at Trumbull High school, taking on the Rhode Island state champion beginning at 10 a.m. New London will compete in Pool B along with Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. Pool A will consist of Eastern Massachusetts, Vermont, the host team and Western Massachusetts.

Derrel Mitchell Sr. works as a materials manager at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. He said the worst part of winning is having to break it to the parents that they need to keep driving down the highway in the summer traffic and this time for a 10 a.m. game.

"We always told these kids that when they come to play, they have the most talent of any 15-year-olds in the state," Mitchell said. "They know it also. They don't like to have their backs against the wall. (Today), they played all seven innings."

Zach Ruest had two hits and a stolen base for Waterford.

v.fulkerson@theday.com