Through the first three innings of play Wednesday, the Darien 15U Babe Ruth baseball team had done little to secure itself a happy ending to the summer season, trailing 5-0. Outside of a leadoff single, the Blue Hawks compiled two errors and five walks allowed, while they watched the BVSA Fury nearly bat twice through the order.
Well, it's a good thing there was still a full, seven-inning game to go.
Beginning in the bottom of the fourth, Darien fought back from an eventual six-run deficit to claim a 7-6 victory in 10 innings at Holahan Field. First baseman Harrison Radish scored the game-winning run with two outs and the bases loaded on an error at first base, following a ground ball to the right side. Blue Hawks reliever and No. 3 hitter Cord Fox knocked in Darien's first two runs and pitched 4 2/3 innings, surrendering zero earned runs.
The Fury's Blake Warmund took the loss after more than five innings pitched and only two hits allowed in relief, while Chris Davey earned a win for Darien.
"We clearly did not have our best three innings early, but to fight through and realize this is the last game of the season and put our best foot forward ... I'll take it," Blue Hawks coach John Miceli said. "We put a run up and then we got a couple more hits here and there, mixed in a walk and an error and then some insanity towards the end."
Prior to Radish's score, the Fury was denied its own go-ahead run with one out in the top of the tenth, when Pat Diamond crossed home on a Justin Stemmerman RBI groundout. However, following a brief conference involving both head coaches and the home plate umpire, Darien catcher Arthur Xanthos was determined to have interfered with the batter's swing. The umpire ruled Stemmerman would therefore be awarded first base, though Diamond was to be put back at third.
In the next at-bat, clean-up hitter Joe Prisco smashed a hard liner to first, where Radish caught the ball and stepped on the bag, doubling off Stemmerman to end the Fury rally.
"I opened my big mouth too early," Fury coach Mike Parisi said of initiating the conference. "I thought since (the umpire) didn't call it right away, they would play it out and then he would be safe at first. Then the umpire said (Stemmerman) had to go back to third."
Warmund allowed a leadoff double to Blue Hawks center fielder Mark Schmidt to open the bottom of the tenth, before eventually loading the bases with a pair of walks. Then he picked up two outs, and had it not been for a dropped ball while covering first base, he would've matched the five consecutive scoreless innings hurled by Fox and Davey.
"Blake mixes up his pitches very well. His off-speed stuff is good. But he makes it better because he throws them all for strikes," Parisi said. "He played a lot of center field and pitched a lot for us. And when the situation gets away from him, he knows enough to step off, slow it down and get back to work."
The stellar efforts of each reliever who entered after the fifth inning for Darien and the Fury were only matched by those of fielders behind them, who combined for three diving outfield catches and an assist at home plate.
"Cord did a great job on the mound and we just played flawless defense in the second half," Miceli said.
With the win, most Darien players finished their 2014 baseball year with a record of 25-20, combining their final marks from Blue Hawks spring baseball, summer baseball and their record playing for Middlesex Middle School.
"Our team just battled," Miceli said. "A lot of these kinds are younger, they're playing up to the 15A division, we could've chosen to play 15B, but we took some lumps but these kids learned a lot and played a high level baseball towards the end."
Darien 7, Fury 6
FURY 041 100 000 0--6 6 2
DARIEN 000 420 000 1--7 12 5
Batteries: F--Joe Prisco, Jack Read, Jackson Yancy, Blake Warmund (L) and Andy Correia; D-- Griffin Ott, Cord Fox, Chris Davey (W) and Arthur Xanthos. Highlights: F--Jackson Yancy collected two RBIs. Blake Warmund threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. D--Cord Fox recorded a hit, two RBIs and threw 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief. Harrison Radish clubbed a 2-RBI double in the fourth inning and later scored the game-winning run on an error.