Greenwich backs up Genaro with extra inning victory over Trumbull

Behind the stellar pitching of Mike Genaro, the Greenwich American Legion senior baseball team pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning and went on to beat Trumbull 2-1 in a key Zone IV matchup Wednesday afternoon.

“This was a great game and both teams played really well,” Greenwich head coach Mike Abate said. “We knew it was going to be a close game and that it was going to be a battle. I think there were a couple of really close calls that could have gone our way and those could have helped us get some runs earlier. We went up by one to start the game and Trumbull came right back. From there both team coasted and that’s because of the great pitching. That happens in this league.”

With the score knotted at 1-1 heading into extra innings, the Cannons were able to play some small ball to grab the victory, netting a one-out single by second baseman Alex Loparco to plate the game-winner.

Greenwich got the majority of its offensive firepower from first baseman Justin Gaccione, who finished going 3-for-4 with one run scored. Not to be outdone was Loparco, who finished 2-for-4 with one RBI. Hunter Frantz, Jon Dreher, Will Solomon and Kyle Dunster each added one hit.

For Trumbull, Simon Whiteman was a force, netting three of the team’s four hits on the day and he scored one run. Trumbull’s other hit came from Zack Sagar.

“It’s all about execution,” said Trumbull head coach Brett Conner. “We had our chance in the fifth. It was a perfect situation, with Whiteman on third base and one out and our best bunter at bat. Nine out of 10 times he gets the bunt down, but this time he didn’t get it down far enough and the pitcher made a great play to get Whiteman at the plate. It’s hard to get the victory when you only get four hits.”

With the score knotted at 1-1, Greenwich started things out when Gaccione singled a line drive to right field. With one out, Dunster drew an intentional walk and Frantz loaded the bases with a walk during his at bat.

Still with one out, Loparco came up clutch yet again, this time smacking a single to left field that plated Gaccione for the 2-1 advantage. Third baseman Ryan Hardin was looking to add more, as he hit a slow roller. However the Trumbull pitcher threw home for the successful fielder’s choice.

Although that was the lone run of the inning, it was good enough for Greenwich to pull out the victory.

Loparco came up for us in a big spot and he’s been doing that for us all year,” Abate said. “He bats in our ninth spot, but I think he leads the team in our average. I always seems to come up in a big spot and get the job done. He got the big hit for us tonight that drove home the winning run and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

While Loparco came up with some big game heroics, it was the starting pitchers that stole the show. After a rocky first inning in which both Greenwich’s Mike Genaro and Trumbull’s Stanley Wolpiuk each gave up a run, they both settled down and pitched a stellar outing.

For the Cannons, Genaro came up huge, as the No. 3 starter for Greenwich went the distance and only gave up four hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking two batters.

“Mike Genaro came out and matched everything Trumbull’s pitcher had,” Abate said. “He got ahead of the hitters and came out big in the last inning. I was thinking about going to the closer, but he hopped back on the mound and showed me that he wanted it. He did a fantastic job for us tonight.”

Not to be outdone was Wolpiuk, who also pitched a complete game. He gave up two runs and nine hits while striking out five and walking six.

“Stanley was great for us tonight,” Conner said. “He pitched out of some jams. Early on a walk gave them the opportunity to score, but we were able to come back in the first and scratch a run out. Both pitchers, Genaro form Greenwich and Stanley, were competitors today. Unfortunately we were on the losing side today.”

Both teams did the some damage to start the game. In the top of the first inning. Hardin started things with a walk and stole second with one out. A groundout to third by Billy O’Malley moved Hardin to third and Dreher connected on a two-out single up the middle to drive home Hardin and give Greenwich the 1-0 lead.

The Cannons didn’t have the lead for long. In the bottom of the inning, Whiteman got things going for Trumbull with a single to center and immediately stole second. With one out, Whiteman swiped third during Mark Hirschbeck’s at bat. Hirschbeck came through with a grounder to first that scored Whiteman for the 1-1 score.

Although the game went into extras, both teams had golden opportunities to plate an added run. In the bottom of the fifth with one out, Trumbull had Whiteman on third after he singled to left field, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. However a bunt attempt by Waldek went right to Genaro, who tossed the ball to Greenwich catcher Will Solomon for the fielder’s choice out.

In the top of the seventh, Loparco singled to third and advanced to second on a beautiful sac bunt by Hardin. Ricky Okazaki hit a grounder to second that moved Loparco to third. Although O’Malley drew the two-out walk, Greenwich was unable to plate the run, as a pop up to left ended the threat.

With the victory, the Cannons up its record to 14-6, two games behind Trumbull in the standings and remain in third place in Zone IV with seven games to play.

“It’s a big game for us, but it’s only one game,” Abate said. “We have to come right back out here Thursday and play another big game with Trumbull. If we could do the little things and play this style of baseball, I like our chances. We were able to get the bunts down today and manufacture runs.

With the loss, Trumbull fell to 15-4 on the season. While disappointed, Conner knows that Thursday is a new day.

“That’s the beauty of it. We have tomorrow and the series wasn’t won today,” Conner said. “There are two more games. You have to win two games to win the series and that’s our goal. These guys will get their rest tonight and be ready to go tomorrow. We have to hit and execute.

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