The first of two FCIAC Tournament semifinal round games at Habor Yard in Bridgeport Wednesday night featured a terrific matchup between fifth-seeded Trumbull and eighth-seeded Greenwich.
In a game that saw both starting pitchers excel and the Cardinals and Eagles stage comebacks, it was Trumbull that earned a berth in Saturday’s FCIAC final, pulling out a 5-4 eight-inning victory. Trumbull, which won the FCIAC title in 2012, plays Warde in the championship game. Warde ousted St. Joseph in Wednesday’s other semifinal at Harbor Yard.
Capitalizing on two Cardinals errors in the eighth inning, the Eagles scored the game-winning run on Mat DiRienzo’s single to right field. DiRienzo, who singled off GHS left-hander Mike Genaro, was mobbed at first base by his teammates after delivering the winning hit.
“This ranks first as far as the hits I’ve gotten,” DiRienzo said.
“He’s one of the guys we want up in that situation,” Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said of DiRienzo. “He’s been locked in, they had no place to put him with the bases loaded and he got a good pitch to hit.”
J.T. Hintzen of Greenwich and Trumbull’s Avery Santos matched each other on the mound, inning after impressive inning. Hintzen had six strikeouts and allowed five hits, while Santos struck out eight. Both pitchers worked their way out of trouble throughout en route to working seven innings.
Outfielder Jake Levison had a sacrifice fly, an RBI single and drove in a run with a double for the Eagles. Hintzen, Kyle Dunster and Jonathan Dreher had run-scoring singles for Greenwich, which plated its other run on a Trumbull throwing error. Greenwich claimed a 3-2 lead with a run in the sixth inning, but could have scored more runs. With the bases loaded and no outs, No. 2 hitter Alex LoParco hit a fly ball to left field that was caught by Trumbull’s Liam Moore. The GHS runner at third tagged up and Moore’s throw toward the plate was cut off by third baseman Zach Sagar, who threw home and got the Cards runner out at the plate.
Dunster, one of the Cards’ premier pitchers, also cut down a runner at the plate from right field when Trumbull tried to stretch a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Dunster and Dreher each had two hits for the Cardinals, who have lost seven one-run games this season, several of which have been decided in extra innings.
“We made a good run in this tournament and I expect us to make the same type of run in the state tournament,” GHS first-year coach Phil Tarantino said. “We know we can beat anybody. We just have to get the kids to get over this one and move on.”