Maniscalco, Warde turn back rival Ludlowe
Published 9:22 pm, Friday, April 17, 2015
BRIDGEPORT -- After back-to-back losses where his pitching staff gave up 33 runs, Ludlowe coach Mike Francese was looking for someone to step up, take the ball and start getting batters out.
Friday night against town rival Warde, Eddie Magi did just that, pitching five solid innings. Problem was, his counterpart, Warde's Reece Maniscalco, gave his coach seven solid innings and the Mustangs a victory.
Maniscalco made just one mistake, a two-run seventh-inning home run to Nate Klein, as the Mustangs defeated the Falcons 4-3 in the Battle of Fairfield before a crowd estimated at 1,100 Friday night at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.
"We're a confident bunch," Warde coach Mark Caron said after his team improved to 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the FCIAC with a big game against Staples coming up on Monday. "These kids are coming off the FCIAC championship and they expect to win. That makes a big difference when you show up to the field with confidence, expecting to do good things and so far, we've been pretty fortunate."
Ludlowe, on the other hand, continues to try and fight through hard times. The Falcons lost for the fourth time in five starts and fell to 1-3 in the FCIAC.
"I just expect these guys to keep working because I know they're going to get better throughout the season." Francese said. "We've still got some opportunities. There are 15 games left to see what we can do. We battled tonight but it wasn't enough."
On the mound, Maniscalco battled through control issues. The junior right-hander didn't have command of his off-speed pitches and simply relied on his fastball to go the distance. He gave up five hits while striking out four -- in front of a half dozen college scouts -- to keep the Falcons at bay. Barely.
"I just stuck with my fastball, I really didn't have anything else," Maniscalco said. "I couldn't locate anything with my off-speed stuff so I had to rely on the fastball."
Ludlowe took the lead in the bottom of the first after John Dailey doubled to center with one out and Patrick O'Leary drove him in with a long double to left. But in the top of the second, Warde went in front 2-1, thanks to Zach Weinstein's two-run RBI single. The Mustangs extended the lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth when junior first baseman Zavier Espinel hammered a solo home run deep over the wall in right.
"It was coming inside and I just golfed it," Espinel said. "I didn't know where it was until the (first base) umpire was telling me it was a home run. It was a great feeling. "
Warde added a clutch insurance run in the sixth when pinch-runner Quinn Hermann hustled all the way from second to score on an infield single off the bat of Dakota DeJordy, just beating the throw to the plate to make it 4-1.
"They stole one on us there," said Francese. "That was a heads-up play on their part and it wound up being the game winner."
"It's another FCIAC win for us," Maniscalco said. "It's big."
WARDE 020 101 0--4 7 1
LUDLOWE 100 000 2--3 5 0
Records: Warde 6-0, 4-0 FCIAC, Ludlowe 1-4, 1-3. Batteries: W--Reece Maniscalco (W) and John Natoli; L--Eddie Magi (L), Patrick O'Leary (6) and CJ Hanrahan. Highlights: W--Zach Weinstein had two hits and two RBIs. Zavier Espinel hit a solo home run. L--Nate Klein had a two-run homer. Patrick O'Leary had an RBI double.