— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) August 1, 2021
STAMFORD — It was a long time coming for District 8 and an even longer time coming for Manchester Little League.
Riding the arm of Eli Bucko and pounding out 11 hits in four innings, Manchester defeated Wilton 10-0 in the Connecticut Little League State Championship at Drotar Park in Springdale
Manchester advances to the New England Regional beginning next week in Bristol.
It is the first state title for Manchester and the first District 8 team to win the state title since Enfield in 1990.
Bucko was in command all night for Manchester giving up just one hit while striking out five batters over four innings.
“It’s crazy. We went from our first game against Somers all the way to here. I can’t believe we are state champs,” Bucko said. “I wanted the ball pretty bad tonight. It felt great for us to get runs in the top of the first. I knew I needed help there. Our offense can do it. Throughout the whole lineup we really hit the ball and that really helped me to have those runs.”
Bucko also brought it at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI.
Manchester got on the board in the top of the first.
Jacob Budarz got things going by hitting a ground-rule double to left. He came in to score on a double to right by Eli Bucko who would later score on a fielder’s groundout by Paul Virdokian.
Manchester busted it open in the third with five runs starting with a leadoff home run deep beyond the leftfield fence by Arlen Peyman.
Manchester got RBI hits in the inning from Virdokian, Anthony Anselmo and a two-RBI single off the bat off Sean Stolarz.
They would push the lead to 10-0 in the fourth with the big hit coming off the bat of Anselmo in the form of a two-run single to center.
“It feels really good,” Manchester coach Rob Rastelli said. “This is the first time for Manchester to win one. We are happy to be the first to win it and feel fantastic for the boys. We are happy to be moving on.”
For Wilton, the loss brings to an end the best run in Wilton Little League history, making its first appearance in a state championship game.
“It’s been a magical run,” Wilton coach Kevin Toohill said. “Our primary goal was to win Districts this summer. We have a good team and we won 29 games between the spring and the summer. We won Districts and Sectionals and then came in here and lost the first game. We battled back and sent two teams home. Six elimination games, when you get to the seventh one, it gets a little bit tougher. These kids are great kids, great ballplayers and have great attitudes.”
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