Fairfield Prep baseball advances to Class LL semifinals
The Fairfield Prep baseball team got a slight break when it arrived at Bristol's historic Muzzy Field for the first time in more than 25 years, Saturday.
Bristol Central standout Matt Blandino had started the previous round for his team on Wednesday against NFA, meaning the major league prospect would only be available to come out of the bullpen if needed.
By the time Blandino entered the game in relief in the fourth inning, the Jesuits had the lead and their starter was in such a groove it was never going to be relinquished.
Kyle Mollo allowed two runs on four hits in a complete-game effort as the No. 10 Jesuits continued their magical run in the Class LL tournament with a 6-2 win over No. 2 Bristol Central in the quarterfinals.
"We're just out here playing the game," Jesuits coach Rudy Mauritz said. "In a tournament you play who you get. (Bristol Central) had a very good season. The guys came out and worked hard, put pressure and came away with a win."
After the teams traded runs in the opening inning, Mollo settled in to claim the victory. The senior retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, including recording his only two strikeouts in the seventh inning.
"Mollo did a great job of settling down, basically scattering four hits," Mauritz said. "That's a testament to his character and who he is as a person. He and (catcher) Jake Berry did a good job of keeping (Bristol Central) off balance."
Prep pulled away during a mistake-filled top of the fourth inning. Despite not hitting a ball past the infield, the Jesuits scored three times, two as a result of strikeouts where the runners reached base, and a crucial throwing error by Blandino.
"(Bristol Central) made a few mistakes," said Prep shortstop Dean Lockery, who turned in an excellent performance defensively. "The first few innings we were able to get a run because we got the leadoff hitter on base. We just kept doing what we're good at doing."
Blandino struck out nine in four innings of relief for the Rams, who saw their season end at Muzzy Field in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. Prep chased Rams starter Michael Tessman after he gave up four hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
"It was great to play in this atmosphere," Mauritz said. "A place so steeped in history on a great night against a great team."
FAIRFIELD PREP 111 300 0--6 7 2
BRISTOL CENTRAL 101 000 0--2 4 3
Records: Fairfield Prep 17-6; Bristol Central 20-2. Batteries: FP--Kyle Mollo (W) and Jake Berry; BC--Michael Tessman, Ronnie St. Denis (L), Matt Blandino and Andrew Laviero. Highlights: FP--Chris Collins went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Kevin Stone went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI. Kenny Collins went 2-for-3 with a stolen base.