Greenwich falls short in FCIAC finals
A magical ride.
That's the only way coach Phil Pacelli could describe the last three weeks of the season for the Trumbull baseball team.
The seventh-seeded Eagles, who needed to win their final five regular-season games just to reach the FCIAC tournament, took full advantage of the opportunity, besting top-seeded and previously undefeated Greenwich, 7-1, in the league finals at Bridgeport's Ballpark at Harbor Yard Saturday afternoon.
For the Eagles, it is their first FCIAC championship since 2005 -- a year in which they also clipped the Cardinals to win the league crown.
Trumbull dedicated its season to the late Jerry McDougall, and used a remarkable run of pitching and defense to honor their legendary football and baseball coach who passed away in October.
In three tournament games, the Eagles (16-7) allowed just one run spanning 25 innings.
Strapping senior right-hander Mike Yerina, who went the distance in Trumbull's eight-inning 1-0 victory over second-seeded St. Joe's in the FCIAC quarterfinals, earned the save with three shutout innings in relief of sophomore Colin Keyes.
Yerina and Keyes, who combined on a four-hitter, were named co-MVPs.
"This is the best feeling in the world," said Yerina, who struck out four and allowed just one batter to reach. "To be standing here after we started the season 8-7 is pretty surreal. We peaked at the right time, that's for sure."
It was an uncharacteristic game for the Cardinals (22-1), who committed three errors and made a few mistakes on the basepaths.
The Eagles seized the moment, scoring three unearned runs -- including two on passed balls.
Trumbull jumped out to a quick lead against
Greenwich's taxed pitching staff as well, scoring two first-inning runs off senior Dylan Callahan -- who worked an inning of relief in the quarterfinals against Danbury on Wednesday before going four innings in the semis against on Thursday.
The Cardinals would use four pitchers on the day, each of whom appeared at one point during the tournament. Greenwich was also playing on its fourth straight day after completing the final three innings of its rain-delayed 1-0 victory over McMahon on Friday.
"In a game like this you just can't afford to make the mistakes we did today," Cardinals coach Mike Mora said. "I'm extremely proud of this group, they ran every ball out to the end and played as hard as they have all year. Now we just have to regroup and get ready for Wednesday (Greenwich is the No. 1 seed in the Class LL tournament and has bye into the second round)."
Greenwich's lone run came in the bottom of the fourth when David Berdoff led off with a single up the middle for his team's first hit of the day, then stole second and eventually scored on a sac fly off the bat of cleanup hitter Casey Gaynor -- just beating the throw home by right fielder Will Velez.
Down 4-1, the Cardinals would threaten in the fifth after a leadoff single by Kyle Ballone and a one-out bunt single by Nick Bancroft, but Yerina retired the next two batters.
Senior Ryan Marks fired 2 1/3 scoreless innings for Greenwich, but Trumbull broke it open in the sixth with a three-run outburst. Brendan Moore, who collected two of the Eagles' six hits, had a two-run single and Casey Mack drove in a run with an infield hit on a high chopper to shortstop.
Yerina would retire the final eight batters he faced, and when Ricky Okazaki went down swinging in the seventh, the Eagles threw their gloves in the air and reveled in the program's fourth league championship -- the first three under McDougall.
"Coach Mac was a guardian angel for us," Pacelli said. "During the preseason there was never a mention about our team, literally no words written about us so that was a motivating factor as well. Today we took advantage of the opportunities and got some timely hits. I don't think I could have envisioned this three weeks ago, but it's just been a magical ride."