Class LL champion Staples tops final GameTimeCT baseball poll for 2019

Staples High School won the CIAC Class LL Baseball Tournament for the second time in the last three seasons and, consequently, was ranked No. 1 in the Final 2019 GameTimeCT Top 10 Baseball Poll.

Just as coach Jack McFarland’s Wreckers were also ranked No. 1 in the final state baseball poll in 2017.

One difference from two years ago was that these 2019 Wreckers, who finished 25-3, were unanimously selected No. 1. They received every first-place vote from the 14 media voting members. Two years ago Staples got five first-place votes while another three teams combined to get the other five first-place votes.

Southington, which was shut out by Staples star Chad Knight, 3-0, in this year’s Class LL state championship game, finished 21-4 and was ranked second in the final state poll. Southington was seeded third and Staples was seeded fifth in the Class LL tournament.

Staples won its final two games by that same shutout margin of 3-0 as its semifinal victim, top-seeded Cheshire, finished 25-2 and as the third-ranked team in the state.

Amity (19-8) and Class L state champion Waterford (20-9) were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

The FCIAC had its three teams in the Top 10 all ranked among the top seven as Class M state champion St. Joseph (19-8) was ranked sixth and Fairfield Ludlowe (20-8) was seventh.

St. Joseph’s Cadets shut out three of their opponents in the Class M tournament before they defeated Wolcott, 6-3, in the state championship game.

Ludlowe was eliminated by Southington, 3-2, in the Class LL quarterfinals.

The teams ranked 8-10 in the Top 10 were Berlin (22-3), Newtown (20-4) and Wolcott (25-3).

The media voting members selected 15 teams on their respective ballots. Another dozen teams were in the “Others receiving votes” category, and the only FCIAC team among those 12 was Trumbull (15-8), which received the 18th most points.

Trumbull had a 6-4 lead against host Staples going into the bottom of the sixth inning of the Class LL quarterfinal game before Staples rang up eight runs in that sixth inning to advance to the semifinals with a 12-6 victory.

McFarland’s Wreckers had quite the postseason run as they first captured the FCIAC championship and ended the season with an 11-game winning streak, concluding with five victories in the Class LL state tournament.

And Knight, their star senior, played a prominent role in both state championship games during the last three seasons.

Knight fired a three-hit shutout and struck out 10 Southington batters in this year’s final. In the 2017 championship game Knight was summoned for the starting assignment and the poised sophomore responded by hurling a complete-game five-hitter and bombing a 415-foot two-run home run to lead 11th-seeded Staples to a 5-1 victory over top-seeded Amity.

Four years prior to that Knight was a star on Westport’s Little League World Series team in 2013.

Staples nipped Ludlowe, 2-1, in the May 22 championship game of the 2019 FCIAC Baseball Tournament at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.

Ludlowe had beaten Staples by a convincing 14-0 margin in Fairfield on May 8 and that was the last loss of the season for the Wreckers before they embarked on their season-ending 11-game winning streak.

Staples defeated St. Joseph, 4-2, and Ludlowe beat Darien, 5-3, in the FCIAC tournament semifinals at Cubeta.

In the FCIAC quarterfinals: Staples shut out Brien McMahon, 8-0, Ludlowe scored the game-winning run in the ninth inning for a 5-4 victory over crosstown rival Fairfield Warde, St. Joseph nipped crosstown rival Trumbull, 11-10, and Darien advanced to the semifinals with an 8-2 victory over Danbury.

During the postseason, including the conference and state tournaments, Staples beat four teams which finished among the top seven in the final state poll (No. 2 Southington, No. 3 Cheshire, No. 6 St. Joseph and No. 7 Ludlowe).

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