CIACsports.com gave fans the chance to choose their favorite CIAC Championship NFHS Network moment from 2018-19, with 17 choices. The fans have spoken. After counting down numbers 5-2 the previous four days, it is time to reveal the top choice. The previous entries in the top-5 are listed below.
#1 – Cadin Maynard delivers winning hit in Class L baseball final
There is a coach having a “feeling” or “sense” that their team might be poised for success, and then there is whatever type of eerie prophecy Waterford baseball coach Art Peluso and his brother (a Waterford assistant coach) engaged in prior to the team’s Class L tournament run.
“Earlier in the tournament we [Head Coach Peluso and his brother] were like ‘what is it going to take to win five games’,” Peluso explained. “He [Peluso’s brother] said ‘if we need a run late in a game, Cadin Maynard will drive it in.'”
Fast forward a few weeks, and there is Cadin Maynard, delivering the game-winning hit to break a 0-0 tie in the top of the 7th inning to send Waterford to its record 11th-state baseball title. This indelible and clutch moment was voted by the fans as the top championship moment in the 2018-19 CIAC Moments Vote.
The path to that dramatic moment for both Maynard and the Waterford team as a whole followed a similar winding path.
For Maynard, that meant an offseason commitment to being ready for his senior season putting in time in the weight room and the batting cage. It was a level of work that is part of why the coaching staff might have had their premonitions about his ability to produce in key situations, and his strong hitting late in the season was part of improved play heading into the tournament.
“He’s [Maynard] a kid who always shows up and works hard,” Peluso said. “He transformed his body over the course of his junior into his senior year. He was in the weight room, working out three or four times a week. He was going to the indoor batting cages during the wintertime even though he played basketball too.
For the Lancers team altogether it meant staying confident and focused and showing up to work everyday while fighting through a regular season that featured more adversity than this particular program faces. A tough schedule and some injuries kept the Lancers from putting together the kind of regular season win total to which they are accustomed. But that resilience would pay dividends come CIAC Tournament time.
“The kids were very resilient, they never gave up on themselves, they never doubted themselves,” Peluso explained. “We were competing, we just weren’t coming out with wins. They really aren’t used to going 12-8, but they always showed up, they always practiced hard, they never put their heads down. They just kept competing. And that created an air of confidence.”
The resolve and calm in the midst of a tough game was tested early in the tournament, and Wateford aced the test. The Lancers outlasted defending Class L champion Wethersfield by a run in extra innings in the second round, demonstrating it would take a lot to rattle this group. Coming through in that situation served to instill more confidence and steadfast belief in the team, to the point where Peluso was somewhat in awe of how even as his team prepared to take on Berlin in the final, the moment did not have them overwhelmed.
“What I will remember most from that game is the calmness from when we got on the school bus until the end of that game,” Peluso observed. “There was no nervousness, no nervous energy. Nothing phased them. When you get into that type of game, that calmness just helps you to compete within that type of environment.
The calm permeated to the coach as he remained placid and confident as the two teams matched zeroes through the first six innings, with very few threats to break the deadlock along the way. Waterford pitcher Jared Burrows stymied a potent Berlin lineup, while Redcoats hurler Adam Balinsky kept the Lancer bats quiet until the seventh. Until Maynard would get his chance to make his coaches prophetic — and then delivered.
“This is great for him [Maynard] because he was always kind of like the role guy,” said Peluso. “Whenever he would have an opportunity late in games he would always have good at bats. So there was something inside of him that could calm himself down when he was in those kind of situations, and obviously it worked out for him and for us that he came up in that situation.”
Any decisive hit or play that helps win a state championship is going to be memorable. But there aren’t too many things that provide the tension of a scoreless baseball game as the innings flip by and the fans and teams wonder which team will finally be the one to break the deadlock. When it finally happens, in the final inning no less, it’s a breakthrough that has few parallels in terms of sports drama. Not hard to see why Maynard’s RBI single resonated with fans in the voting — it was rising to the occasion with high stakes and high pressure.
Sometimes coaches just know things. Don’t ask how, or why, they just know the way things might play out. In this case, the Waterford baseball coaches knew Cadin Maynard had what it took to deliver in a crucial moment. And high school sports fans on Connecticut also knew something. They knew coming through under that kind of pressure with the biggest stakes was a championship moment worth honoring.
- #2 – Two key saves from Maya Rose helps East Lyme secure girls lacrosse title
- #3 – Mya Johnson caps decorated career with game-winning goal for Old Lyme girls soccer
- #4 – Southington secures final out to hold off late rally in softball final
- #5 – Acrobatic lay-up sparks Farmington to boys basketball title