Just one day after scoring an improbable come-from-behind victory in the South-West Conference semifinals, the Notre Dame-Fairfield baseball team did it again -- this time with the conference title at stake.
The fourth-seeded Lancers came from behind -- not once, but twice -- to defeat third-seeded Pomperaug 9-6 in eight innings in the SWC title game Thursday night at Bethel High School. It is the first SWC title for the Lancers, who came away empty-handed in their five previous trips to the title game.
"We just keep telling them, `You can't give up, you can't give up,' " Notre Dame coach Bill Mazzucco said.
Lanky right-hander Spencer Bassett earned the win on the mound, working 7-and-one-third innings, striking out seven, walking five and allowing nine hits; he added two singles and two runs to help his cause. Dillon Stimpson, the staff ace, came on in relief with two on and one out in the eighth and preserved the win.
"Dillon has been good all season ... it was a team effort," Bassett said. "Everybody hit, everybody played defense."
Lancers designated hitter Brendan Barger was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He had a single, a double and two RBI, and was hit by a pitch in Thursday's win.
Pomperaug got on the board first with three runs in the fifth courtesy of RBI singles by Sam Rubinstein, Luke Frering and Jake Parsell -- Parsell had three singles, a double and an RBI on the evening and Rubinstein added two singles and two RBIs.
Notre Dame tied it with three of its own in the sixth. Barger had an RBI double to deep center field, Mark Komaromi had an RBI single and Kevin Bortnick drew a bases-loaded walk. Komaromi collected three singles, a walk and three RBI in the game.
Pomperaug and starting pitcher Luke Frering escaped further damage when Panthers left fielder Connor Sullivan threw out the potential go-ahead run at the plate to end the inning after catching Matt Lasky's fly ball.
Mooney put Pomperaug ahead 4-3 in the sixth with a two-out triple down the right-field line.
Notre Dame then manufactured a run in a most unusual fashion to tie the game in the seventh. Mooney came on in relief of Frering, who had worked six innings, struck out three, walked three and scattered seven hits. Notre Dame's Matt Moffat led off the inning by popping up to third, but Parsell -- who had made several big defensive plays in the game -- appeared to lose the ball in the Hunt Field lights, and the ball dropped in, allowing Moffat to reach first. Moffat later scored when Mooney hit Barger with a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Lancers then struck for five runs in the eighth to take the lead for good. Bortnick grounded a leadoff single to left off Pomperaug reliever John Bedard and moved to second on Lasky's sacrifice bunt. Moffat then slashed a single to right past a diving Rubinstein at first base to plate the go-ahead run.
Later in the inning, off reliever Tyler Dielemans, Bassett drove a fly ball to deep left field that was misplayed, allowing two more runs to score. Komaromi then added a two-run single to make it 9-4.
Refusing to go quietly, Pomperaug rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth on back-to-back RBI singles by Jack Yule and Rubinstein, but that was as close as the Panthers came.
Pomperaug advanced to the title game with a 3-0, eight-inning victory over second-seeded Weston at Bethel on Thursday afternoon.
Notre Dame-Fairfield 9, Pomperaug 6 (8)
NOTRE DAME 000 003 15 -- 9 11 1
POMPERAUG 000 031 02 -- 6 11 2
Records: Notre Dame 18-5; Pomperaug 15-8. Batteries: ND--Spencer Bassett (W), Dillon Stimpson (8) and Matt Lasky. P--Luke Frering, Cooper Mooney (7), John Bedard (8, L), Tyler Dielemans (8) and Jack Yule. SO: Bassett 7, Stimpson 2; Frering 3, Dielemans 1. BB: Bassett 5; Frering 3, Mooney 1, Bedard 1. HBP: Bassett 1, Mooney 1, Dielemans 1. 2B: Nick Cartolo (ND), Brendan Barger (ND); Jake Parsell (P). 3B: Mooney (P). RBI: ND--Mark Komaromi 3, Barger 2, Matt Moffat, Kevin Bortnick; P--Sam Rubinstein 2, Frering, Parsell, Mooney, Yule.