Greenwich falls to Trumbull in extras of FCIAC semis, 5-4

Greenwich High School catcher Jonathan Dreher shows the umpire the baseball after GHS right fielder Kyle Dunster fired a missile to the plate and Dreher applied the tag to the Trumbull runner trying to score from third. Trumbull went on to beat Greenwich 5-4 in the semifinal round of the FCIAC tournament Wednesday night. — Bill Bloxsom photo

Greenwich High School catcher Jonathan Dreher shows the umpire the baseball after GHS right fielder Kyle Dunster fired a missile to the plate and Dreher applied the tag to the Trumbull runner trying to score from third. Trumbull went on to beat Greenwich 5-4 in the semifinal round of the FCIAC tournament Wednesday night. — Bill Bloxsom photo

The Greenwich High School baseball team did everything in its power to keep its magical run through the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference alive.

However it was Trumbull High School that once again ended Big Red’s run in the conference tourney.

Although the Cardinals were down to its last strike and managed to knot the game at 4-4, the Eagles were able to score once in the bottom of the eighth to win 5-4.

“It’s a tough loss, but I am still proud of my kids,” Greenwich High School head coach Phil Tarantino said. “They played hard and battled in extra innings, but Trumbull got the big hit. It was a great high school game and hats off to Trumbull because they played well. We are two very similar teams. We both have two pitchers that are very strong.”

After Trumbull scored twice in the sixth inning to reclaim the lead, Greenwich had only one inning left to net the equalizer.

With one out, Sean Marks got things rolling with a single to center. Although Kyle Woodring struck out, Marks was able to successfully steal second base on the third strike.

Up came Jonathan Dreher and with two strikes he connected on a short fly ball that landed just in front of the THS left fielder for the RBI single and 4-4 tie.

“Our motto is to play seven innings and leave it all on the field,” Tarantino said. “They did that. All year we were battling for position. The kids believe in each other and they play hard.”

Although Trumbull went quietly in the seventh, they were able to take advantage of a Greenwich error in the eighth.

With one out, Jake Levison hit a slow roller to third for the infield single. However the GHS third baseman threw high and over the head of Justin Gaccione patrolling  first base. Levison was able to grab second on the error.

With first base open, GHS intentionally walked Colin Keyes. Up stepped starting pitcher Avery Santos, who hit a fly ball to shallow center, but the center fielder was unable to grab the ball and Santos loaded the bases on the play.

Still with one out, Mat DeRienzo connected with a single on the drawn in outfield and Levison was able to easily come around to score the game-winner.

“Every time we play Greenwich, it seems to come down to one run, a hit there, a good pitch there,” Trumbull High School head coach Phil Pacelli said. “They threw a top-notch guy (JT Hintzen) and we tried to battle him, work the counts. Nothing came easy at the plate.”

With the Eagles and Cardinals squaring off, it was once again two stellar pitchers that set the tone.

For Big Red, JT Hintzen was solid. In seven innings of work, he gave up six hits and two earned runs while striking out six and walking only two.

Not to be outdone was Trumbull’s Santos, who also pitched seven inning and gave up eight hits and two earned runs while striking out eight and walking three.

The difference was Trumbull’s ability to strike first and capitalize off of Greenwich mistakes.

In the top of the first inning, the Eagles grabbed the early 1-0 lead when Liam Moore led off with a double, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored off a sacrifice fly by Levison.

Greenwich answered in the top of the third and tied the game at 1-1. With one out, Alex Loparco drew a walk and advanced to second off a grounder by Gaccione. Hintzen then helped his cause by lacing a single to center and Loparco beat the tag at the plate for the run.

It didn’t take Trumbull long to reclaim the lead, as they also scored a run in the bottom of the third. With one out, Connor Broderick reach base on an infield single and advanced to second on a passed ball.

With two outs, Levison kept the good times rolling by uncorking a single to left that plated Broderick and gave Trumbull the 2-1 lead.

While Hintzen was cruising on the mound, Greenwich knotted the game in the fourth and took the lead in the sixth.

With one out in the fourth, Dreher singled to left and was replaced for pinch runner Ryan King. A grounder advanced King to second, but with two outs, Zack Monick reach base on an error and King came around to score on the play.

In the sixth, it looked like Big Red could have broken the game open. Dreher once again singled and Jack Guiliani reached base safely after landing a perfectly placed bunt. Monick got into the bunting act and also reached base with a successful drag bunt to third.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Kyle Dunster hit a hard single to left that drove home Dreher for the 3-2 lead. One of the key plays for Trumbull happened next, as Loparco flied out to Moore in shallow left field. Greenwich’s Guiliani tagged on the play, but Moore rifled a shot to the catcher Carlos Garrido and he was able to tag the GHS runner to complete the double play.

Trumbull took the lead in the bottom of the sixth when they scored twice in the frame. Leading the charge for the Eagles in the inning was a Levison double and a Moore walk.

With the loss, Greenwich fell to 14-8 on the season and will resume its season next week when they start play in the CIAC class LL tournament. Trumbull upped its record to 16-6 and will play Fairfield Warde Saturday at noon for the FCIAC championship.

“I expect the same effort that we have had all season when it comes to States,” Tarantino said. “I expect us to get healthy and have an excellent run. I think we can beat anybody. It’s exciting, but we have to have the kids get over this one and move on. It’s going to be tough and it will take a couple of days.”

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