STAMFORD -- If the Stamford baseball team misses out on the postseason by a single game, it will probably look back at Thursday's defeat as the one that got away.

Leading by three runs with six outs to against a Darien team that had been held to under six runs in 14 contests this season it appeared the Black Knights were about to boost their FCIAC playoff chances.

Instead, Stamford's bubble may have burst off of one crack of the bat by Darien's man of the moment.

Blue Wave junior Andrew Maley capped a five-run sixth inning with a two-run home run as Darien rallied to defeat Stamford 8-6.

Maley, who went 2-4, blasted the first pitch he saw against Stamford reliever Tyler Curto to instantaneously turn a 6-5 deficit into a 7-6 lead.

"We usually like to jump on first pitches," Maley said. "The pitcher threw me a nice fast ball kept my head down and went with it."

Entering the day just a game back of the playoff places, Stamford (8-8, 7-7 FCIAC) shook off a slow start that put it in an early 3-0 hole by scoring twice in the third and four times in the fourth, chasing Darien starter Dillion Dunan and establishing a comfortable advantage for the late innings.

Or at least what seemed comfortable.

"You have to give Darien credit; they weren't done," Stamford coach Fred Kelley said. "A lot of teams would have just folded after we got the lead back but they didn't. They had a lot of kids that stepped up and you can't take that away from them."

Tom Carruthers pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win for Darien after going 3-4 with a home run at the plate. Stamford put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Carruthers bore down and retired the side.

"When you're on the mound you try to not worry at all and keep your mindset of throwing strikes," Carruthers said. "It worked out in the end. I was confident out there. This last stretch is huge for us; we showed what we could do today."

The sequence was a surprising turn of events for the Blue Wave (6-11, 5-10), who have struggled to put together victories this season or momentum of any kind.

"This season hasn't gone our way, but hits are contagious," Maley said. "Once we got a couple the ball kept rolling and it happened for us today. We like to play for each other. This was our season right here; we had to put up a big number and that's what we did."

Despite the struggles, Darien can still qualify for the class L state tournament with two wins in its final three games. However, two of them come against teams occupying playoff positions (Warde and Ludlowe).

"We've gone through some tough times this year," Darien coach Mike Scott said. "Our work is certainly not done yet, but they were able to dig down and keep fighting. The state tournament is our goal and we won't give up."

After losing 7-5 against Fairfield Warde last Friday and beating Bassick 8-1 on Monday, Darien needed a win in its regular season finale against Fairfield Ludlowe, but the result was not available at press time.

Darien 8, Stamford 6

DARIEN 102 005 0--8 11 1

STAMFORD 002 400 0--6 14 2

Records: Darien 6-11, 5-10 FCIAC; Stamford 8-8, 7-7.

Batteries: D--Dillon Duncan, Jonothan Dethlin, Tom Carruthers (W), and Sam Gillespie; S--Steve (W, 2-1), Tyler Curto (L), Tyler Kane, and Russel Martin.

Doubles: D--Mike Stovall, Carl Stowell, and Bryan Previte; S--Travis Domico Home runs: D--Tom Carruthers and Andrew Maley.