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New England Roundup: Connecticut

6/2/2011

Shelton’s High School’s James Tate has certainly received his share of media attention recently. Perhaps even more attention than he would have liked.

ConnecticutTate found himself in the national spotlight last month after he was banned from attending his senior prom when he asked his date, Sonali Rodrigues, to the event by taping cardboard letters to the front wall of his high school.

The controversy died when Shelton school officials reversed their original decision and allowed Tate to attend the prom, which will be held this Saturday. Then Tate made headlines for a completely different reason.

His 5-over-par 76 at Race Brook Country Club on Tuesday earned him medalist honors at the Southern Connecticut Conference golf championship.

“I made tons of putts,” Tate said. “That’s how I got it done. I shot lights out. Best round I’ve ever shot.”

His low round helped Shelton win the program’s first team championship as well.

The Gaels shot a 317 team total. Amity finished second with a 332, and Notre Dame-West Haven was third with a 333.

Tate’s round included three birdies. Fairfield Prep’s Matt Mastronardi finished second with a 77.

“It’s been a pretty crazy few weeks, but I had fun [Tuesday] and shot well,” Tate said.

ROMANO NAMED TOP PLAYER

Southington right-handed pitcher Sal Romano was named Connecticut’s Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year on Wednesday.

Romano has a 9-1 record with 103 strikeouts in 61 innings this season. He has surrendered 32 hits and walked 12. Romano struck out 12 in a 2-1 victory over Ridgefield in the first round of the CIAC Class LL baseball tournament Tuesday.

Romano, who has signed a national letter of intent to play baseball for Tennessee, leads his team in batting average (.439), RBIs (24) and home runs. (two).

“Romano is a real throwback who affects the game offensively and defensively,” Bristol Central coach Bunty Ray said. “He’s an elite pitcher who throws three pitches and can throw them all for strikes. And he also swings the bat real well.”

PERFECT ENDING

Senior E.J. Ashworth tossed a perfect game to help fourth-seeded Amity defeat 29th-seeded South Windsor 4-0 in the first round of the Class LL baseball tournament Tuesday.

It was the first perfect game in the program’s history, and the first no-hitter thrown by an Amity pitcher since Scott Meyer didn’t allow a hit against Shelton in 2004.

Ashworth struck out five of the 21 batters he faced.

Vin Siena gave Ashworth all the support he needed when he hit a two-run home run – his seventh home run of the season – in the bottom of the first inning.

Ashworth improved his record to 7-3 and lowered his ERA to 1.56 with the victory.

CONNER STEPS DOWN

Mike Conner resigned as Lyman Hall’s boys basketball coach Wednesday to focus more time on his job as a middle school principal.

Conner, 31, was Lyman Hall’s head coach for six years. The Trojans were 85-58 during those six seasons.

Lyman Hall qualified for the Class L state tournament five times under Conner. He guided the Trojans to the semifinals three times, including last season when they finished with a 19-6 record.

ON THE FAST TRACK

RHAM freshman Christine Bendzinski broke a 20-year-old state record Tuesday during the CIAC Class MM girls state championship track meet at Middletown High School.

Bendzinski completed the 800-meter run in 2 minutes, 16.31 seconds. Pomperaug’s Ann Pare set the previous record (2:16.59) in 1991.

DARIEN CHASING ANOTHER TITLE

The top-seeded Darien boys lacrosse team began its quest for a seventh consecutive state championship by beating 16th-seeded Notre Dame-West Haven 17-2 in the first round of the Class M state tournament Wednesday.

Richard Gregory scored five goals for Darien, which improved its record to 18-2. The Blue Wave will face ninth-seeded Fairfield Ludlowe in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Darien has won the last five Class M titles, and also captured a Division I championship when boys lacrosse was split into two divisions.

Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.