By Pat Pickens

WESTPORT-- For seven innings the Fairfield Ludlowe and Staples High School baseball teams played nearly flawless baseball.

But in the eighth, the Wreckers blinked.

Staples committed three, eighth-inning errors that led to two Ludlowe runs as the Falcons handed the Wreckers their first loss, 3-1 in extra innings on Monday at Wreckers Field.

"It came down to fundamental baseball," Ludlowe coach Keith O'Rourke said. "Good things happen when you put the ball in play, and that was the difference in the game today."

Falcons' starter Tim Moran pitched 7 1/3 innings of four-hit, one-run ball to earn the win. Charlie Meder had three hits for Ludlowe and Mike Kochiss was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Ludlowe reliever Victor D'Ascenzo struck out Wreckers third baseman Eli Andrew looking with the bases loaded in the eighth to earn the save.

Staples, according to Wreckers coach Jack McFarland, "wasted" a strong outing by starting pitcher Jimmy Kopack. The senior scattered seven hits, and allowed just one earned run, while striking out 10 -- including seven in a row at one point -- in 7 1/3 innings.

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The Falcons put the embarrassing memory of its 16-1 loss to St. Joseph on Friday behind it. Ludlowe held a closed door meeting Saturday morning to air its problems following that loss and responded, defensively by not committing a defensive error.

"We got a lot of the stuff out that we needed to say," Moran said. "This was the perfect time for us to win a game like this."

"It's a huge confidence boost for this year's group," O'Rourke said.

Staples did not commit an error either until the extra inning. With the game tied at 1 in the top of the eighth, Kochiss reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a high throw by Staples shortstop Sam Ellinwood.

After a sacrifice bunt moved Kochiss to third, D'Ascenzo was walked intentionally, Falcons first baseman Kevin Hickey squared to squeeze bunt, but pulled the bat back. Staples catcher James Frusciante bluffed a throw to third and the third baseman, Andrew, faked a tag which was ruled, by the plate umpire, as obstruction. Kochiss was awarded home plate and the Falcons went ahead 2-1.

"It was a good call. You're not supposed to fake a tag," McFarland said. "I don't know if he had to call it there, but it's the right call. It's a tough-way for that inning to go down."

"I had no idea it was obstruction," Kochiss said. "But it was exciting. That must be a terrible way to lose a baseball game."

D'Ascenzo stole second and scored when Hickey reached on an error, putting Ludlowe up 3-1.

"The whole momentum changed," McFarland said. "We were a little loose today."

Ludlowe was first on the scoreboard in the third when, with two outs, the Falcons scratched three straight hits, capped by Kochiss' RBI single that scored Tommy Howell and put the Falcons ahead 1-0.

Ellinwood was 2-2 at the plate with two walks and his solo homer in the bottom of the inning tied the score.

But that was the Wreckers' last hit until the eight, Moran kept Staples off guard, and Ludlowe's defense made all the plays behind him.

"When we play well we make all the plays in the field," Kochiss said. "That's what we did today."

Moran narrowly avoided a loss in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Chris Speer's loud foul ball down the left field line curved foul.

"That foul ball really got to me," Moran said.

But Moran struck Speer out on the next pitch, forcing extra innings.

LUDLOWE 001 000 02-- 3 8 0

STAPLES 001 000 00-- 1 4 3

Records: FL-- 4-3, S-- 5-1; Batteries: FL-- Tim Moran (W, 2-0), Victor D'Ascenzo (Save, 1) and Mike Poudrier; S-- Jimmy Kopack (L, 2-1), Julian Clarke and James Frusciante; Doubles: FL-- Charlie Meder, S--Marco Romero; Home runs: S-- Sam Ellinwood.