Fairfield Kiwanis/PAL Senior Babe Ruth upsets Darien
Published 1:02 am, Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Led by pitcher and recent Ludlowe graduate Zach Garoffolo, who helped the Falcons win its first-ever FCIAC title in May, Fairfield Kiwanis/PAL upset Darien 5-1 Saturday in the Championship game.
Though Darien was the top-seed in the 10-team league, made up of teams from nine communities, its team did not have a single high school baseball player on its roster. Most of the players were members of the Darien High School track program, and one player, second-baseman Alex Granata, is a skateboarder.
But Darien's speed on the basepath was trumped by Garofollo's pickoff move. Garofollo, who went 5-2 and had a save for the Falcons this spring, picked both Nick Neville and Nick Hart off first base in the top of the first inning and forced Darien to be conservative on the bases.
"Zach's a varsity letterman, and they learn how to be leaders," Fairfield Head Coach Dave Boback said. "They want the ball in the big spot, and that's what Zach does. He's a great kid and a smart player."
Garoffolo starred on the mound for Fairfield. He threw a complete game, struck out five and walked two.
"Garoffolo's a stud, probably one of the best, if not the best pitcher we've seen all season," Darien Head Coach T.J. Garvin said. "He had command of his pitches and his defense didn't make any errors."
Garoffolo was also clutch at the plate, he drove in the winning runs with a two-out triple in the sixth inning.
With the score tied and runners on second and third, Garoffolo pulled hanging curveball just inside the third base line off of relief pitcher Jake Barrington and plated Justin Salerno and Ashwin Prakash for a 3-1 lead.
"It had a great feeling off the bat but I was actually thinking it was going to go foul," Garoffolo said. "But I was running hard out of the box, hoping to get a double at the least."
Through the first five innings, Fairfield's offense could not generate any momentum off Darien starter Brent Eppley, who earned All-FCIAC honors as a long-jumper for Darien High School this spring.
But Eppley, who allowed five hits, walked one and struck out two through five innings, could not continue because of a sore arm. Barrington was pulled after Garoffolo's triple, and Cam Bogie finished the game on the hill for Darien.
"They're both (Eppley and Barrington) great pitchers for us," Garvin said. "Barrington has a little more speed, but Fairfield was able to catch up on his speed more than I thought."
Darien broke into the run column in the bottom of the fifth inning when Eppley singled to center and scored Cam Bogie, who beat Salerno's throw to the plate.
Bogie singled with two out in the fifth and stole second to get himself into scoring position.
Salerno doubled with one out in the sixth to score Chris Kennedy, who led the inning off with a walk. Kennedy moved to second on a past ball and went to third when Darien right fielder Chris Morales lost Steve Halliday's pop-up in the sun.
Fairfield added a pair of runs in the seventh when Ryan Grande hit a sacrifice fly to score Andrew Mellinger, who singled, and Halliday doubled to plate Kennedy, who got on with his second single of the game.
Halliday also had two hits for Fairfield, which was the third seed and defeated Trumbull 5-3 on Fridat to reach the finals.
The Fairfield Kiwanis/PAL team played its first 10 seasons as Fairfield Kiwanis. The Fairfield Police Athletic League decided not to field a team this season because of a lack of player interest, and decided to co-sponsor the Kiwanis entry.