Williams, Darien beat Danbury, advancing to fifth-straight FCIAC baseball semifinal
DARIEN — If there is one place FCIAC baseball teams do not want to be, it is matched up with Darien in the tournament quarterfinals.
This season, the unlucky team drawing the No. 3 Blue Wave in the opening round was No. 6 Danbury.
For the fifth-straight season, Darien won its quarterfinal matchup, advancing to the semifinals with an 8-2 win over the Hatters.
Darien will face No. 2 Ludlowe in the semifinals Monday at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.
It was the third-straight season Henry Williams has been on the mound for a quarterfinal and the third time in a row, he dominated for the win.
“(Williams) was mixing in his slider and challenging their hitters and getting balls in play,” Darien coach Mike Scott said. “That’s three years in a row he has beaten a darn good team in the quarters.
“For him to give us that effort on the mound was huge. We got three double plays today. That’s huge. Those are backbreakers. They are threatening with one out and runners in scoring position and those change the outlook of the game.”
Darien’s defense turned double plays in the third, fourth and fifth innings, ending both the third and fifth on twin-killings.
Danbury actually got to Williams early, scoring a run in the top of the first inning.
Javon Hernandez ripped the first pitch of the game from Williams off the fence in left for a double before stealing third.
Hernandez would sprint home on a strikeout later in the inning in which the catcher had to throw to first to complete the out.
Danbury got runners to third in the third and fourth innings but Williams left them standing there.
“You like when you come out and score the first run against a good pitcher. We did that with Javon’s (Hernandez) double and a great baseball play by him scoring,” Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford said.
“Give Darien a ton of credit for battling back against Justin (Solimine). They turned three double plays, that’s more than we turned all season. (Williams) struck out nine, we have been averaging two or three strikeouts a game. One of those days. Hats off to them.”
Darien quickly answered in the bottom of the first with three runs.
Devyn Kipphut drove in the first on a single to right, Glen Fay picked up a RBI with a successful safety squeeze bunt and Kipphut came home on a wild pitch for the third run.
Aided by an error, Darien scored three more times in the third with Aaron Sears driving in one run on a broken-bat infield-hit.
Sears picked up another RBI in the fifth on another infield hit, later coming in to score on Danbury’s third error of the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Henry Williams, Darien. The Duke-bound senior struck out nine in 61/3 innings pitched using a mix of a low-90s fastball and a devastating slider.
“(The slider) helps a lot when I was missing up with my fastball. To be able to counter with that second pitch and throw it for strikes was huge,” Williams said. “(Our defense) struggled early with three errors but rebounded and made plays when they needed to. These guys have trust in me and I trust them and to come out and do my job, it’s great.”
DARIEN 8, DANBURY 2
DANBURY 100 000 1—2 8 3
DARIEN 303 020 X—8 6 3
Batteries: Dan - Justin Solimine (L), Matt Sabene (4) and Jake Matson; Dar - Henry Williams (W), Trace Florio (7) and Ben Olson
Hitting: Dan - Javon Hernandez 2-for-4, double, 2 runs; Justin Hope 2-for-4, double, 1 RBI; Andrew Philbin 2-for-3; Dar - Aaron Sears 2-for-2, 1 run, 2 RBIs; Mac McLean 1-for-2, walk, 1 run, 1 RBI; Nicky Briganti 1-for-2, walk, 2 runs; Devyn Kipphut single, walk, 1 run, 1 RBI
Records: Danbury 12-8; Darien 13-8