LEDYARD — Phoenix Billings has hit a few home runs in his time.
He has not hit any that felt quite as good off the bat as the blast he hit in the sixth inning off the roof of the garage beyond right field in Ledyard.
The fact it gave his team the lead against the No. 1 ranked team in the state, made it even sweeter.
“That was my first (off a garage roof). I was looking to be aggressive and get the pitch I wanted and I was happy about that pitch. Fastball, inside and low. That’s where I was looking and that was the only pitch I was going to swing at and they gave it to me,” Billings said. “Even though they are No. 1 in the state, our conference (SCC) is more competitive and we are more dominant and we face better teams on a weekly basis. It showed today that we could just grind out a game like that and win.”
Billings home run gave No. 6 Hand the lead and the Tigers tacked on one more run, beating No. 1 Ledyard 5-3 at Matt Buriak Field Thursday afternoon.
It was the first loss for Ledyard (7-1), while Hand improved to 7-1.
Hand pitcher Liam Wallace went the distance, striking out seven and allowing only four hits.
Ledyard got to Wallace in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ken Turner was hit by a pitch and Peter Kiefer and James Laconico followed with back-to-back doubles to give the Colonels a 2-0 lead.
Hand would answer in the second on an RBI single by Jake Crawford, scoring Kevin Girardi.
Turner got a RBI of his own for Ledyard in the bottom of the second, scoring Andrew Boudah on a single to left.
Wallace would not allow Ledyard to get any more.
Crawford plated another run for Hand in the fifth on a groundout to second.
In the top of the sixth, Brad Cosgriff led off with a single and two batters later, Billings sent his home run soaring over the right field fence and onto the roof of the garage.
Billings had been hitting the ball the other way during the game, lulling Ledyard into believing that’s how he preferred to go.
“What got me was (Billings) didn’t take that approach the whole game,” Ledyard coach Scott Chiasson said. “He never tried to pull the ball the whole game and we kept going right at him. He almost kind of sandbagged me because he never took that approach until that last swing.”
Phoenix Billings, Hand: The UConn-committed junior was 3-for-3 with a walk and the big home run.
“I feel like (Wallace) was at his best when the pressure was the highest,” Hand coach Travis LaPointe said. “I thought his last three innings were better than his first three innings, which is special. He has limited varsity experience and he is going to be able to build off of this and he will be able to pitch in big spots for us. It was a gutsy effort.”