Battling Norwalk for the third time in the last 16 days, the Senators, seeded third in the Class LL state tournament, provided Petridis with all the support he would need, plating a run in the fourth inning on a two-out bloop single by left fielder Brandon Davis.
Mixing in an assortment of off-speed pitches with pinpoint command, Petridis quieted the No. 14 Bears, retiring 10 of the final 13 batters after surrendering a lead-off hit in the fourth. He allowed just seven baserunners--the final one in the seventh on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Ronnie Sherman--and retired second baseman John Lauttenbach on a grounder with a runner in scoring position to preserve a 1-0 victory Wednesday, sending the Senators (18-4) into the quarterfinals.
"He goes out there and battles. He's not fazed," McMahon head coach John Cross said of Petridis. "He wasn't rattled at all. He just goes out and throws strikes. He didn't overpower anybody but he's a crafty lefty."
The McMahon southpaw scattered three hits and walked just two in a complete-game effort. He also received a game-changing assist from his defense in the third, spurning Norwalk's finest chance to score when Davis threw a perfect strike home to nail Kevin Lawrence, who was attempting to score from second on a single.
"I thought he had it but the left fielder made a great play," Norwalk head coach Pete Tucci said. "He charged the ball well, made a great throw, so you've got to give him credit on that play."
In defeating Norwalk for the first time in three tries this season, the Senators sealed a matchup in the next round Saturday with sixth-seeded New Britain (17-5) at Nolan Field in Ansonia.
"I was hitting my spots. They're a good hitting team and they had some hard-hit balls. We were making the plays," Petridis said. "I was trying to keep them off balance with the curveballs, sliders, changeups and just hit the spots basically."
"Aleko did a great job. He shut us down," Tucci said. "We really didn't have many opportunities. He really limited us."
Clinging to a one-run lead, the Senators had a golden opportunity to blow the game open in the fifth, but failed to score after loading the bases with no outs. Lauttenbach, who was called upon in relief of right-handed starter Spencer Jacoby following a lead-off walk, allowed the next two batters to reach base but escaped further damage. He struck out back-to-back pinch hitters before retiring Davis on a groundout.
"I was really hoping to stretch the game out in that situation," Cross said. "You have a couple guys who haven't been hitting too well but you never know--if you can just put the ball in play."
Norwalk ended the year at 14-8, completing an up-and-down season in Tucci's first year back at the helm. The Bears opened 3-5 but closed the regular season winning 11 of their final 13 games.
"We didn't play as well as I thought we should have on a consistent basis," Tucci said. "There are times we were brilliant and there were times we were actually awful. Today we weren't awful but we weren't brilliant either. But it's been a fun year for me and any time you get to work with a bunch of kids like that, you're going to have a real good time."
MCMAHON 1, NORWALK 0
NORWALK 000 000 0--0 3 2
MCMAHON 000 100 X--1 5 2
Records: Norwalk 14-8, 12-6 FCIAC; McMahon 18-4, 14-4.
Batteries: N--Spencer Jacoby (L), John Lauttenbach (5) and Kevin Daniele. M--Aleko Petridis (W) and Chris Holomakoff.
Doubles: M--Zack O'Connor.