Mustering only five runs over a three-game set, Darien-New Canaan Junior Legion was swept this past weekend by second-place Stamford in a critical series that dropped the team one game out of the state playoff picture.
Last Saturday, Stamford (17-5) scored six runs in the first inning en route to a 6-2 series-opening victory, before it took both ends of a Sunday doubleheader at Darien High School. Billy Blau fired a complete game shutout and batted in two runs during the afternoon's first contest, a 3-0 Stamford win, leading up to a pitchers' duel in the finale. As each team managed only a single hit until the final two frames, Darien-New Canaan left the bases loaded at the final out of an eventual 4-3 defeat.
Darien-New Canaan (12-11) lost its sixth straight overall, while Stamford all but solidified itself a spot in the state tournament later this month. Armed with an aggressive approach at the plate and on the base paths, Stamford scratched across a run in each inning from the third through the sixth, despite tallying only four hits.
"Our approach is always to be very aggressive and put the pressure on the defense," Stamford coach Scott Giorgi said. "All three games were very close. It was a good team we played, and we were very fortunate to come out on top."
Darien-New Canaan starter Charlie Sealy went the distance in the one-run loss, as did each of his team's hurlers who preceeded him against Stamford. Over seven innings, he totaled four strikeouts and allowed only one hit ball to leave the infield, a triple to right-center from Ruben Rodriguez, which opened the sixth. In the subsequent at-bat, Rodriguez came around to score for the second time on the game via a sacrfice and extend Stamford's lead to 4-0. It was Sealy's lone earned run of the day, as the defense behind him recorded three errors.
"Those small, small errors turned into big ones today. Whenever they got a runner on base with nobody out, they were able to manufacture that into a run, and that's what hurt us," Darien-New Canaan coach Michael Patrona said."Charlie's been great. He's an excellent pitcher. He knows what he needs to do ... If he gets a little help from his defense, this game might've ended differently."
However, the star of the game was Sealy's counterpart, 14-year-old Stamford starter Anthony Franglose. Franglose, who will be entering the ninth grade this fall, threw six and a third innings and took his exit only after surrendering a pair of late walks. First baseman Chris Clemmenson then entered and loaded the bases with a walk of his own, before inducing outs from Danny O'Boyle and Thomas Williams around a run-scoring hit by pitch.
"He's a monster. He's a man-child and he's just a super kid," Giorgi said of his starter. "We gave him his first start and he pitched great. He just kind of got a little tired towards the end, and we used one of our guys in relief."
One inning earlier, Darien-New Canaan infused some much-needed life into its dugout by putting runners on every base with one out. Next, the home team plated two runs via a pass ball and fielder's chocie, but the much-needed, clutch RBI-hit still evaded Darien-New Canaan, as it has for the last half-dozen games.
"We have to realize we have to have that kind of energy for seven innings," Patrona said. "And that's the hard thing with summer baseball. Today it's hot, it's muggy and whatever ... but if you want to be a good team, you've got to have that energy."