Heading into the top of the ninth inning of Friday’s Southern Connecticut Conference inter-divisional contest between Amity and Notre Dame (at Quigley Stadium in West Haven), The Spartans and Green Knights were tied 4-4. Amity’s Nick Baviello led off the top of the inning with a single up the middle. He stole second and came on to score a go-ahead run on Chris Katz’s base hit. Katz tried to stretch his single into a double but was thrown out at second base. Vin Siena followed with a bases-empty two-bagger into right center field and pilfered third base. With one out, Sam Nepiarsky lined out to right field but Siena failed to tag up and come home. The inning ended with ND shortstop Christian Baglini spearing Ted Ballou’s line drive, which left Siena stranded on third base.
Looking back at his team’s 6-5 loss, Amity Coach Sal Coppola said, “Tonight, we played excellent defense; for the most part, our pitching was good; and, we hit the ball well. We made some base running mistakes in the top of the ninth that came back to hurt us. After Chris (Katz) got banged out at second base, Vinny Siena ripped a double. That cost us a run. Then, Vinny didn’t tag and come home on Sam’s shot that the right fielder grabbed. He knows he should have tagged up and come home. I think he had a mental lapse. He was a few steps off the base and didn’t go back to tag up. We tell our guys in that situation to always go back and tag up. If the ball is caught, he can still score. If the ball drops in, he could walk home.”
He added, “Those mistakes cost us two runs. We had a couple of one-run leads but never could get up by two or more runs. It’s a totally different game when you are up by two runs instead of only one run. It completely changes what you do.”
Amity picked up an unearned run in the top of the second inning. Ballou singled with one out. Keith Klebart’s base hit and a throwing error by third baseman gave Amity sophomore starter, Mike Concato a 1-0 lead. He held that lead until the bottom of the sixth inning. A throwing error by Siena, a wild pitch, and a passed ball moved Garabedian around to third base with no outs. One-out walks to DeCaprio and Baglini loaded the bases. Goldrich doubled into the right-center field gap, diving home Garabedian with the tying run. Notre Dame pitcher Matt Elia helped his own cause by blasting a 2-run double past third base and into the left field corner. With his team now trailing 3-1, Concato struck out both Brandon Wynne and Matt Murray.
With the Knights holding a that two-run lead, Amity cane to bat in the top of the eighth. Adam Kyasky reached base on another throwing error by Zullo. After Elia hit Baviello with a pitch, Katz bunted both base runners into scoring position. Siena followed with a game-tying two-run single into left center field.
Concato picked up two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh inning but then walked Panza, who proceeded to steal second base. With the winning run in scoring position, Coppola brought on Esposito to get the third out and leave Panza stranded. That was exactly what Esposito did but on his final pitch to DeCaprio, he re-pulled a hamstring muscle that he originally pulled in his team’s recent victory over Cheshire. He did not return to the field for the bottom of the eighth inning and was replaced by Nepiarsky.
The teams swapped single scores in the eighth inning. Klebat spanked a two-out single off Green Knight reliever and winning pitcher, Kyle Lockery. He stole second base and gave his team a 4-3 lead when he raced home on a pinch-hit RBI single by Justin Ashworth.
Baglini led off the bottom of the eighth inning with his second double of the game and hen scored the equalizer when Wynne dropped a base hit into shallow center field.
“Mike Concato pitched a great game and deserved to pick up a win. Before the eighth inning, I asked him if he wanted to go back out. He said he felt great and I went by how he felt. Baglini was tough. He hit everything we threw at him,” Coppola said. “Espo got us out of a big jam in the seventh inning but he re-pulled his ham string and couldn’t go back out to pitch the eighth. At that point, we had no choice. We had to bring in Sam. It was a tough position to put him in. He’s only a sophomore and never had to be our closer in a big game like this one.”
During his 6 2/3 inning stint, Concato gave up three runs (only two were earned runs) on seven hits, struck out nine Notre Dame batters and walked three. Nepiarsky was charged with the loss.
The Green Knights had defeated Amity 11-10 in the first game of the season, completed their series sweep of the Spartans also snapped their seven game winning streak. Both teams now have 8-3 records.
In addition to Baglini’s offensive fireworks, Goldrich (who will play football at the University olf New Hampshire next fall) chipped in with three hits and two RBI. Panza added two base hits and an RBI.
Siena tripled, singled, and drove in three runs for Amity. Ballou (bound for the University of Hartford) singled twice and scored a run.