Jordan's one-hitter propels Darien into FCIAC baseball final
Behind Justin Jordan’s left arm and Arthur Xanthos’ bat, the Darien Blue Wave defeated the Fairfield Ludlowe Falcons 2-0 in the FCIAC baseball semifinals on Wednesday night at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.
“He (Jordan) did everything. He got ahead of some guys. Even when he didn’t get ahead, he was able to come back and fought through the counts he got behind,” said Ludlowe head coach Mike Francese. “He has a great pace of his game, he commanded the strike zone and just did a great job keeping our hitters at bay.”
The fourth-seeded Blue Wave (16-6) will face second-seeded Staples (17-4) in the FCIAC championship game at 7 p.m., Thursday, at Cubeta. The Wreckers defeated Danbury 3-0 in Wednesday’s late semifinal game.
It will be Darien’s second appearance in the championship game in three years. The Wave defeated Trumbull 3-2 in 2016 on a walk-off hit by Sean O’Malley.
“It’s a great feeling (to go back to the FCIAC Championship),” said Jordan. “I remember I was in the bullpen when Sean hit the walk-off. I was a little nervous but I’m excited to go back. It’s going to be great tomorrow.”
Jordan shut down the Falcons’ offense, which had scored 18 runs in their quarterfinal victory over Ridgefield.
“I was a little intimidated, but I pitched against them last game (in the regular season),” said Jordan. “I just have to thank my defense.”
Jordan threw a complete game, allowing just one hit, while walking four and striking out eight.
“He was throwing first pitch strikes. He was playing to their aggressiveness, throwing a lot of first pitch changeups and they were offering at them,” said Darien head coach Mike Scott. “He shut down a very good hitting team.”
Mike Randazzo and Chris Benton threw the ball well for Ludlowe. Randazzo took the tough-luck loss, throwing four innings of one run baseball. He allowed five hits and walked one, while striking out four.
“Both Mike and Chris did a good job. Mike hasn’t pitched in almost a month (May 1) and he came in and gave us all he had. We knew we were going to be limited with him pitch wise,” said Francese.
Benton threw the final two innings, allowing a run on three hits and also hitting a batter.
“Chris has done it all year coming out of right field as our big man reliever and just did a great job keeping them as close as we could and giving us an opportunity,” said Francese.
Darien got on the board in the third. With runners at the corners and two one, Xanthos singled home Fin Batson. That would be all that Jordan would need.
“It’s been a different part of the order every game. It’s not always the big guys,” said Scott.
Ludlowe had its opportunities to push runs across. In the fourth, Derek Tallman reached on a throwing error leading off the inning but was thrown out trying to advance to second on the overthrow.
Later in the inning, the Falcons loaded the bases on walks with two outs but a fielder's choice to third would get Jordan and Darien out of the jam.
“I was mixing it up a bit, keeping them off balance,” said Jordan. “I knew they were going to come out swinging. That’s what they did at RIdgefield.”
In the fifth, the Blue Wave would add an insurance run. With Henry Williams on second and two outs, Xanthos blooped a single to center field to bring in Williams and put Darien ahead 2-0.
Ludlowe had another opportunity in the sixth. Tallman led off with a single to center field. That was the first, and only, hit of the game for the Falcons. Brian Howell sacrificed him over to second. Following a walk to Vince Camera put two on, Jordan struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
“We had an opportunity there, we just didn’t get the bat on the ball when we needed to and push those runs across,” said Francese.
The Falcons would go quietly in the seventh, as Jordan struck out the first two batters and finished the game off with a fly ball to center field.
“It’s the name of tournament baseball: Pitching and defense. It’s what wins you championships,” said Scott. “We’ve got one big one left.”