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1-hitter thrown by Maniscalco sends Mustangs to title game

Updated 3:51 pm, Thursday, May 29, 2014
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The FCIAC baseball championship game will not be an all-Trumbull affair.

Sophomore right-hander Reece Maniscalco and sixth-seeded Fairfield Warde made sure of it.

Maniscalco fired a complete-game one-hitter to lift the Mustangs to a 4-1 victory over No. 2 St. Joseph in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday night in the FCIAC semifinals at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.

"Reece was absolutely dominant tonight," Warde coach Mark Caron said.

"He controlled the strike zone, especially the outer third. He had his off speed. He pitched like a senior tonight. Being only a sophomore, it's incredible."

Maniscalco ran into some trouble in the second, allowing his only run on a wild pitch after a single by Mark Hirschbeck, two walks and one hit batter.

But other than that, Maniscalco was flawless.

He got a 6-4-3 double play to end the third inning, then set down 13 in a row to end the game.

Maniscalco, making his first start since coming back from an injury, struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to close it out.

Maniscalco finished with seven strikeouts and three walks.

Fairfield Warde (14-8), which also defeated St. Joseph 5-0 in the third game of the regular season, will face No. 5 Trumbull in the finals Saturday at noon at Harbor Yard.

"I always knew this team was a real team even though no one else did," Maniscalco said.

"We all knew. The whole team knew we were for real. We're just pumped up right now."

Senior center fielder Mike Foley went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a stolen base to lead Warde, which will be making its first appearance in an FCIAC championship game.

The Mustangs lost to Norwalk in the 2004 championship game when it was still Fairfield High School.

Trumbull (16-6), which will be making its third straight appearance in the FCIAC championship game, posted a 5-4 victory over Greenwich on a walk-off single by senior first baseman Mat DiRienzo in the bottom of the eighth in the other semifinal.

St. Joseph (15-7), which had won seven straight going into the game, including a 2-1 win against Fairfield Ludlowe in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, hurt itself by committing four errors.

Warde, which beat Darien 6-2 in the quarterfinals, scored its first run in the top of the first without the benefit of a hit.

Tommy Luckner led off with a walk, went to third when a long fly ball to left off the bat of Foley was dropped and scored on a sacrifice fly by Giacomo Brancato.

Warde scored once in the top of the second on a leadoff single by Anthony Miller, an infield error and an RBI-single by Brendan Miner.

But Trumbull thwarted what could have been a much bigger inning by stopping a suicide squeeze attempt, then throwing a base runner out at second for the final out.

Trumbull scored one in the bottom of the second when pinch-runner S.J. Armone scored on a wild pitch, but the inning was a costly one for the Eagles.

Trumbull left the bases loaded and starting shortstop Mark Hirschbeck injured his leg sliding into second on a foul ball down the first base line. Hirschbeck re-entered after being lifted for a pinch runner, but was hobbling the rest of the night.

Warde took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth on a leadoff single by C.J. Sabella and a two-out, RBI-single by Zach Weinstein.

The Mustangs added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on two infield errors, including one precipitated by Hischbeck's injury.

FCIAC baseball semifinal

Fairfield Warde 4, St. Joseph 1

FAIRFIELD WARDE 110 100 0--4 7 0

ST. JOSEPH 010 000 0--1 1 4

Records: Fairfield Warde 14-8; St. Joseph 15-7. Batteries: FW--Reece Maniscalco (W) and Anthony Miller; SJ--Jake Amoroso (L) and Ismael Herrera.

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