Greenwich senior legion ends season with loss to Trumbull, 2-1

Greenwich legion pitcher Kyle Dunster fires the ball to the plate during Monday's game against Trumbull. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich legion pitcher Kyle Dunster fires the ball to the plate during Monday’s game against Trumbull. — Paul Silverfarb photo

It was the kind of game that you would expect from an American Legion playoff game. The Greenwich Cannons and Trumbull matched each other toe-to-toe.

Both starting pitchers were on the top of their game. The defenses were stellar and both squads had a golden opportunity or two post several runs on the board.

However, Trumbull was able to capitalize on a few of Greenwich’s miscues and pulled out the thrilling 2-1 victory Monday afternoon at the Trumbull High School baseball field.

“They executed offensively and got the hit when we had to bring the infield in,” Greenwich head coach Mike Abate said. “They executed that squeeze to get that second run and that was the difference. We tried to battle back. We had guys on at the right opportunity, but we didn’t execute the way we normally do and should of to win a playoff game.”

With the victory, Trumbull advanced to the Southern Division best of three sectional final against Cheshire.

“I’m excited to play Cheshire,” Trumbull head coach Brett Conner said. “I was hoping to play against them in the Rhode Island tournament on July 4, but we fell short. It’s going to be a fun match-up. They have a lot of good arms and great players, but we have great arms, great players and a great defense. We are ready for the challenge.”

On the mound, both Greenwich’s Kyle Dunster and Trumbull’s Nikho Arganese were dealing and both tossed complete games.

Arganese came up victorious on the day. In nine innings of work, he gave up one run and five hits while striking out five batters and walking only three.

“Nikho was on today,” Conner said. “He’s been a grinder all year and nothing phases him. Pressure situations don’t matter and he just comes out and throws strikes.”

“I was feeling pretty good out there,” Arganese said. “I used the change of speeds, and location inside and outside. Mostly my curveball is what’s working, but today my pitchers broke a lot. I changed up the grip and it moved a lot.”

Greenwich Cannon first baseman Justin Gaccione get the ball from catcher Will Solomon after a dropped third strike forced Solomon to make the throw for the out. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich Cannon first baseman Justin Gaccione get the ball from catcher Will Solomon after a dropped third strike forced Solomon to make the throw for the out. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Not to be outdone was Dunster. The future Boston College Eagle gave up two runs and seven hits, while striking out six and walking two. Dunster threw 65 of his 100 pitches for strikes.

“He pitched good enough to win,” Abate said. “That’s been him all year. That’s been his M.O. throughout his career. He kept us in it. Trumbull is a great team and hopefully they go far in States like I think they can. Kyle kept us in it but I think we couldn’t push those runs over the plate like we needed to.”

Trumbull got its runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Luke Waldek led off with a walk, Mark Hirschbeck singled to right field, Matt DiRienzo hit a grounder to third to advance both runners 90 feet.

Zach Sagar was up next and he uncorked a single to left field that scored Waldek and moved Hirschbeck to third.

Still with one out, Stanley Wolpiuk came up and laid down a soft bunt between Greenwich catcher Will Solomon and Dunster. Dunster charged the ball, scooped it up and tossed to Solomon, but Hirschbeck beat the tag and gave Trumbull the 2-0 lead.

“The last time we played Greenwich here, they beat us because we didn’t execute,” Conner said. “You have to execute if you’re going to win these ballgames. If you don’t execute, it’s hard to win. We executed today and those two runs were the difference.”

The score could have been more, but Dunster was able to get the next Trumbull batter to hit shortstop Ricky Okazaki, who started the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

It didn’t take long for Greenwich to respond. In the top of the seventh, Jon Dreher led off by reaching base on an error. With two outs Mike Marzonie stepped to the plate and launched a strike over the center fielder’s head that went in for a double.

On the play, Dreher darted around third and headed home. The throw from the outfield came to the Trumbull catcher, but Dreher was able to get under the tag to cut the deficit to 2-1.

“I think getting that run was big,” Abate said. “Making it a one-run game and having Marzonie, who was battling injury, crush that ball to left center and we score that run was big. It was a big run. In the following inning we had our nine and one runners on, so we had guys on first and second and they are the fastest runners we have on the team.”

Despite the golden opportunity to try and tie the game in the top of the eighth inning, the Cannons were unable to net a run. Alex Loparco led things off and drew a walk. Up next was Ryan Hardin, who connected on a perfect bunt and beat the throw to first.

“I thought we battled really well today,” Loparco said. “The ball just didn’t roll the right way today. We didn’t make a few plays today and I think that cost us the game.”

However the next Greenwich batter bunted right at Arganese, who fired a bullet to third to get Loparco out at third. The inning ended quickly as Arganese induced the next Greenwich batter into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.

“The bunt needed to be a little more down third base,” Abate said. “Their pitcher did a great job coming up and throwing him out at third. It was a great situation. We had our fastest guys up and if we were able to get the bunt down third base, we would be sitting with second and third and hoping our three, four, five guys could come up with a hit to potentially push across the go-ahead run.”

For Trumbull’s Conner, the best part about Arganese’s performance on the mound wasn’t the way he threw the ball to the plate.

“It was what he did in the eighth inning when they had guys on first and second and dropped down the bunt,” Conner said. “He fielded his position and made the play over at third base. It was a game changer.”

Both teams had its chances early in the game to grab the lead.

In the top of the sixth inning and the game scoreless, Greenwich nearly scored its first run of the game. Billy O’Malley launched a shot to right field that Trumbull’s Matt Frasoli misplayed.

However he remained calm, grabbed the ball and uncorked a shot that landed to the catcher. Sagar was then able to tag Okazaki at the plate for the final out.

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