Extra credit: Darien baseball overcomes Warde 5-4 in 10 innings
The Darien Blue Wave baseball team picked up a thrilling 5-4 victory in 10 innings over the Fairfield Warde Mustangs on Monday afternoon in Fairfield.
“I’m proud of the way the guys competed,” said Darien head coach Mike Scott. “It was not our best game by any means. We gave them very opportunity to take this game from us.”
The game began as a pitcher’s duel as Henry Williams of Darien (10-2, 7-1 FCIAC) and Chris Saladin of Warde (6-6, 4-4 FCIAC) matched zero’s over the first four innings.
Williams threw five innings, allowing three runs, none earned, on two hits. He struck out six walked two and hit one batter.
Saladin threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking four. Phil Hogan threw four innings of relief, allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out five and walked seven. Mark Vinci also pitched one-third of an inning, getting a big out in the tenth.
“They (Warde) threw a lot of good arms at us today,” said Scott.
The Blue Wave struck first on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Nick Conte singled. After Justin Jordan walked, Williams singled to shallow right field and Conte was able to come around from second and score. Sean O’Malley followed up with a single to right of his own, plating Jordan to put Darien ahead 2-0.
Warde answered in the bottom half of the fifth. With the bases loaded, Austin Stewart hit a ground ball to shortstop that was misplayed, allowing Alex Steele, who had singled earlier in the inning, to come in and score. The next batter, Sam Vincent, lined a single to center field to bring in two runs and give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead.
The game would remain that way until the seventh. With the Blue Wave down to their final out and runners on first and second, Justin Van de Graaf singled to center field to plate pinch-runner Devyn Kipphut to tie the game.
The Mustangs had the bases loaded and a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t push a run across.
“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and get that timely hit but we had our chances to win this game and we just couldn’t come through,” said Warde head coach Brett Conner.
In the eighth, Darien would take the lead. Mac McLean led off the inning with a walk. After a strikeout, Jordan singled and Williams walked to load the bases. A walk to Kipphut brought in McLean to put the Blue Wave on top 4-3.
Warde would not go away. In the bottom of the eighth, Kevin Donnelly hit a one-out double and Mason McKay walked. The next batter, Stewart, singled to left to bring in Donnelly and tie the game at 4-4.
“It’s both teams taking advantage of the other teams mistakes. We took advantage of a couple of their walks and they took advantage of a couple of our errors,” said Scott, whose team committed eight errors. “We’re lucky we came out on the right side.”
In the ninth, Warde would load the bases again and once again fail to score.
“We had more chances than them, we just couldn’t get that clutch hit,” said Conner. “These experiences matter which we will learn from. When we get to a playoff situation, that’s when we can’t let these moments repeat themselves.”
Darien would go ahead for good in the tenth. The Blue Wave loaded the bases with two outs on a single by Williams and two walks. A third straight walk brought in Williams to give Darien a 5-4 lead.
“I’m happy with the way we came back after they took the lead from us and we kept responding and responding and they did the same thing,” said Scott.
Warde would have yet another chance to tie in the bottom of the inning. The Mustangs got a runner to second but the game ended as the runner tried to advance to third on a wild pitch and was thrown out by Darien catcher Arthur Xanthos.
James Louis picked up the win in relief as he worked into and out of trouble. He threw three innings, allowing one run on three hits while walking four and hitting one batter. McLean got the save by throwing a scoreless tenth. Jackson Vaught threw a scoreless sixth for the Blue Wave.
“This one hurts a little bit. I’m never happy with a loss but I’m happy with where our team is at,” said Conner. “We’re competing with the upper-tier teams in the state and the conference.”
Both teams will be right back in action on Tuesday. Darien will host Wilton at 4 p.m., and Warde will travel to Danbury for a 4 o’clock first pitch.
“That’s a good ball club (Warde),” said Scott. “For us not to play our best yet come out with the win says a lot about our guys.”