Greenwich baseball hits bump in FCIAC playoff chase with loss to THS

It had all the making of a playoff atmosphere at Trumbull High School on Monday.

Under the lights at the THS baseball field during the Eagles’ Senior Night, Greenwich had the stellar fielding and clutch pitching performance that matched Trumbull throughout the game.

However it was Trumbull that was able to muster a few more hits when it mattered most and came away with the 2-1 thriller over the Cardinals.

“I thought it was a really good game,” Greenwich head coach Phil Tarantino said. “Their pitcher was really tough and JT (Hintzen) was really tough too. They just got a few more hits than we did tonight. It was that simple. It was a very clean game, as we didn’t make an error and they only made one. I thought our bats were better than just getting one hit. I’m never happy with a loss, but I’m pleased with the way the kids played.”

With the victory, the Eagles clinched a spot in the upcoming Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament.

“We came into this week knowing we needed to get one victory because I think 12 wins would get us in the playoffs and it’s nice to get it tonight,” Trumbull head coach Phil Pacelli said. “I didn’t want to have to go to Wednesday or Friday to have to win to get in. It’s nice to get that out of the way.”

During Monday night’s game, it was the pitchers that stole the show. Senior JT Hintzen was stellar on the mound for Greenwich. In six innings of work, Hintzen gave up only three hits and two earned runs, while striking out six, walking two and hitting four batters. He threw 80 pitches on the day and had 50 of them strikes.

“He worked around things when it wasn’t going well for him,” Tarantino said. “I thought JT pitched really well and was able to keep a lot of their batters guessing. We didn’t give him any extra outs, which is great. When he did put guys on, our defense made the plays.”

Not to be outdone was senior Colin Keyes for Trumbull. In seven innings of work, Keyes only gave up one hit and one run, while striking out five, walking one and hitting one batter. Throwing one more pitch than Hintzen, Keyes landed 52 of them strikes.

“Colin was one again tremendous for us,” Pacelli said. “He really did a good job and overmatched a lot of their hitters. It was a well-pitched game on both sides. Colin got just enough hitting from us to get the win.”

While both pitchers were firing on all cylinders, it was Trumbull that struck first, scoring one run in the bottom of the third inning.

With one out, Liam Moore started things off when it was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Jake Levison singled to right field. Keyes was hit by a pitch and loaded the bases. Avery Santos drove home Moore with a slow roller to third for the sacrifice.

With two runners still in scoring position, Hintzen settled down and got Matt DeRienzo to strike out to end the threat.

The lead didn’t last long, as Greenwich knotted the game in the top of the fourth inning.

Justin Gaccione started the inning by getting hit by a pitch and was replaced by pinch runner Nick Vigliano.

During Hintzen’s at bat, Keyes uncorked two passed balls that advanced Vigliano to third. After Hintzen drew a walk, Sean Mark connected on a sacrifice fly to center that drove home a sliding Vigliano for the 1-1 tie.

Trumbull got the lead for good in the bottom of the inning. Yet again the leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch, as Zach Sagar advanced to first. He didn’t stay there long, as Chris Masi stepped up and unloaded a deep shot over the right fielder’s head for a one-RBI triple and a 2-1 lead.

“The big hit for us was Masi,” Pacelli said. “You put the runner in motion. Sometimes it helps to swing the bat and not think too much about it. Just put the ball in play and good things happen usually.”

Greenwich’s lone hit and best chance at adding runs was in the third inning, when Jonathan Dreher uncorked a double that landed over the left fielder’s head. However that was as far as Dreher would get, as Keyes settled down and got out of the inning unharmed.

With the loss, Greenwich High fell to 9-7 on the season and as of this morning sits in ninth place in the FCIAC, where eight make the playoffs. On Wednesday Big Red hosts Trinity Catholic, a team that’s 8-8 in the conference and still in the hunt for the last FCIAC playoff spot.

On Friday, Greenwich concludes its regular season with a home game against Bassick High School that gets underway at 4.

“We definitely have to win them both to give ourselves the opportunity to play in the FCIAC tournament,” Tarantino said. “My big focus to the kids was that we were going to be play good baseball and the results are going to come. They have. You can’t win every game. For us to win four in a row and have a hiccup that’s a 2-1 loss to a good team, with a good pitcher, on the road and under the lights isn’t that bad. We wanted to win, but we gave ourselves a chance.”

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