Darien turns back Ludlowe
FAIRFIELD -- Sitting undefeated and in first place in the league standings, the Darien Blue Wave are looking forward to an upcoming three-game run in the FCIAC tournament. Meanwhile, sitting near the bottom of the league standings, the Ludlowe Falcons are playing for their very lives.
With just five wins overall and four games left in the regular season, the Falcons will need to win at least three of those final games in order to qualify for the CIAC tournament after the Blue Wave handled them 5-2 Wednesday at Kiwanis Field.
"We're still battling. We're trying our hardest. We still have an opportunity to get into states," Ludlowe coach Mike Francese said. "That's what we're working on right now, an opportunity to play in the tournament."
But to do that, the Falcons (5-11, 4-10 FCIAC) are going to have to find some lightning in a bottle and beat three of the four teams left on the schedule -- Stamford, Westhill, Wilton and Danbury -- in order to get the necessary eight wins to qualify for CIAC play.
"We could get hot and if we do, anything can happen," Francese said. "It's just a matter of who's hot at the right time and who's doing the right things for us."
For a while it seemed like the baseball gods were smiling on the Falcons. Starter Patrick O'Leary battled through four-plus innings, allowing five hits, while walking three and hitting three more. He also threw two wild pitches. Yet, despite all that, Ludlowe trailed just 3-2 after five innings.
"He worked through a lot," Francese said of O'Leary. "These kind of games can go either way. If you can stay within one or two runs, crazy things can happen."
But nothing crazy happened for the Falcons. James Schofield's two-run double in the second (which preceded a hit batter, a walk and a bloop single) gave Darien (14-2, 14-0 FCIAC) a 2-0 lead but the Falcons cut that in half when Nick Warkentin plated Tom Ryan with an RBI single after Ryan had singled and stole second.
Michael O'Malley's RBI single in the fifth made it 3-1 but the Falcons came back again to make it 3-2 as Chris Howell singled, went to second on a single by Mike Bernstein and came in on a sacrifice fly by Nate Klein.
But in the top of the sixth against reliever Dan Stanco, Schofield tripled and scored on Rich Bereton's double. Bereton scored on Conor Davey's single to make it 5-2. Andrew Winish pitched the final two innings in relief of starter (and winner) Davey, allowing just one hit.
"That's what it came down to for us, the clutch hitting for us," Darien coach Mike Scott said. "We got great pitching from Davey and Winish, they kept them in check. We didn't get a lot of opportunities but when we did, we took advantage of them."
And like a lot of times this season, Ludlowe didn't.
"That's been the story for a lot of our games this year," Francese said. "We're sticking with teams, we're getting out in front, sometimes we're battling back and tying games but it's coming down to getting those big hits and getting runners in scoring position. It just hasn't worked in our favor."
DARIEN 020 012 0--5 9 2
LUDLOWE 000 110 0--2 6 0
Records: Darien 14-2, 14-0, FCIAC; Ludlowe 5-11, 4-10. Batteries: D--Conor Davey (W, 4-0), Andrew Winish (6, S) and Anthony DiMeglio; L--Pat O'Leary (L), Dan Stanco (5), Willie Demeo (7) and CJ Hanrahan. Highlights: D--James Schofield had a triple, double, two RBI and scored a run, Conor Davey had two hits and a RBI. L--Nick Warkentin had a single and an RBI, Michael Bernstein had two hits, Chris Howell had two hits and a RBI.