Fairfield Ludlowe baseball upsets Wilton in FCIAC quarterfinals
Tom Nagy, right fielder for the fifth-seeded Fairfield Ludlowe baseball team, summarized the Falcons' six-hit, 12-7 upset win over No. 4 Wilton in the quarterfinals of the FCIAC tournament.
"You've got to take advantage of every single play, everything that they give you," he said. "You just gotta hit it and you just gotta run as hard as you can. You gotta be out there, make them make plays, be aggressive, you know."
Ludlowe took advantage from the opening pitch, as highly regarded Wilton starter Kurt Marut walked Nick Rossomondo, hit Max Senew, and walked Billy Malone to load the bases before the first out of the game. With one out, Rob Ferrara got the Falcons' only hit of the inning, a two-RBI single.
Malone took home on a wild pitch and Zach Garoffolo, Alex Wright, and then Mike Kochiss waited patiently as Marut walked home the fourth Falcon run.
Ludlowe's 4-0 lead evaporated swiftly as the Warriors jumped on Garoffolo , the Falcon starter, stacking four hits atop an infield error, closing to 4-3 with one out.
Falcons' senior reliever Alex Capozziello, a converted infielder whose victory on Monday marked his first career win, balked in the fourth run, then began his redemption with a strikeout and an infield out to retire the side.
"It's pretty surreal," said Capozziello. "I just go out there and pitch strikes, go in there and pound the zone and Robbie [Ferrara] calls a great game for me. Hopefully my team makes plays behind me, and they did."
Senew led off the Ludlowe second by being hit again, then scored by advancing on Malone's second walk, Nagy's fielder's choice, and walks to Garoffolo and Wright.
Capozziello and the Ludlowe defense held the Warriors scoreless in their half of the second, and Kochiss, on base after a Wilton error, broke up a potential double play, leaving Rossomondo on first. Rossomondo took advantage of two passed balls to reach third, then scored on Senew's high bouncing infield sacrifice, opening up a 6-4
Wilton rebounded to 6-5 in the bottom of the third, setting the stage for the Falcons to heed Nagy's watchwords, starting with Nagy, himself.
Leading off the fourth inning for Ludlowe, Nagy slapped a sharp single to right center. As the Wilton fielder took a moment to daydream, Nagy took second, then stole third. Ferrara followed with a walk, then stole second.
Garoffolo took notice of the Wilton reliever's motion, allowing the fourth pitch to get past him for a 2-2 count.
"I just missed the first one cause he threw me a curve ball," said Garoffolo. "I was ready for the next one. I just waited a little bit longer and I timed it up right."
Garoffolo's excellent timing drove the ball to right center field, sending Nagy and Ferrara home with the seventh and eighth Falcon runs. Garoffolo would score the ninth on Capozziello's bunt.
Capozziello kept Wilton's fourth inning short and scoreless, highlighted by Kochiss' backhanded, full-tilt snag in foul territory for the final out.
With two out in the Ludlowe fifth, Nagy stayed in demonstration mode. He reached first on an error, stole second and then third, and saw a pitch drive into the dirt as Ferrara stood at the plate.
"Not getting it done with the stick today is not acceptable," said Nagy, "but I do whatever I can to help the team otherwise. I managed to swipe the bag and then just read the dirt ball, like we've been practicing all year. That's pretty much it."
Nagy's read was perfect and he dove under the tag with the tenth Falcon run.
When Capozziello started to get into trouble in the fifth, Ludlowe head coach Keith O'Rourke swiftly substituted Nick Chandler, then Taylor Brown in the bottom of the sixth. Ludlowe would add two in the seventh before Brown pitched his way out of a no-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh, assisted by Malone's full-tilt, backhand stab deep in left field deep foul territory to end the game.
"We didn't let up, we took advantage of their mistakes, and we could have taken even more advantage," summarized O'Rourke. "We definitely took advantage and we had enough arms in the pen to hold them off. That's a good team."
In the county semifinals on Tuesday night, the Falcons faced another good team, Westhill, 7-4 winners over top-seeded Staples. If Ludlowe won that, the Falcons will play in the FCIAC finals tomorrow night in Bridgeport at 7:30 p.m.