STONINGTON — Manager Jay Wolfradt has led two Pawcatuck Little League All-Star teams to the doorstep of District 10 baseball championships in the last two years, losing on a walk-off homer to East Lyme in the 9-10 last round two years ago and to Mystic in the 10-11 finals last year.
With many of the key players on those All-Star squads back this season, Pawcatuck is hoping to make a bid to win Little League's marquee 11-12 district crown. So far, Wolfradt can't complain.
Pawcatuck is off to a 3-0 start in pool play after downing previously undefeated New London, 7-2, Tuesday at the Pawcatuck Little League complex.
Winning pitcher Cam Ogden pitched four innings of one-hit ball, Jace Wolfradt laced three hits and Bryan Lowe hit a two-run homer for Pawcatuck, which looks in good shape to qualify for the four-team championship round next week. The top four teams in the nine-team District 10 advance. Mystic is the only other undefeated team. Pawcatuck ends pool play 5:30 p.m. Sunday against North Stonington.
"We have a 28-5 run differential and now have a tiebreaker against a lot of once-beaten teams (New London, Waterford and East Lyme)," Wolfradt said. "I'm thrilled with how we're playing baseball. We're hitting in all counts and making plays. We don't need our pitchers striking out 15 to get people out."
Ogden struck out the first two batters of the game, and, in the second inning, got out of a jam by making a slick fielding play with Pawcatuck up 1-0. With a runner on first and one out, Ogden fielded a dribbler down the first base line, tagged the batter running for an out and threw to third baseman Lowe to nail the runner trying to advance, ending the inning.
Pawcatuck scored four times in the third for a cushion. Lowe's two-run homer over over the left-center-field fence was the key hit. Wolfradt, Nick Cannella and Cooper Light also had hits in the frame against New London ace Desmond Powers.
"We got a lot of production from the bottom of the order," Wolfradt said. "We have four 10-year-olds on the All-Star team because the league didn't have enough numbers to field a 9-10 or 10-11 All-Star team this year. The 10-year-olds are not a burden, though. They deserve to be there. There is great competition for for playing time and everyone cheers for each other. This is the best chemistry I've had with an All-Star team."
New London's Jahmiehl Torres singled cleanly in the fourth to break up Ogden's no-hitter. The visitors made things interesting in the fifth when Ogden walked a batter and hit one to open the frame. But Pawcatuck reliever Owen Bennett got out of the inning — allowing just two runs — and went on to finish the game.
"There are five teams very close competing for four championship-round spots," Wolfradt said. "The 3-0 record and run differential are going to help us. We want to keep going."