American Legion State Tournament: Monroe holds off Darien/New Canaan 2-1
MONROE — Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh with a man on second and nobody out Saturday, Monroe reliever Jack Rose spun and fired to second, picking off the runner and ending the Darien/New Canaan threat.
Rose, who walked two in the inning, battled back to close out the first round of the 19U American Legion state tournament with a 2-1 victory at Masuk High School. Monroe, the 12th seed, will face No. 20 Middletown Sunday at 1 p.m. at Masuk High. Middletown upset fifth-ranked Trumbull 7-5 Saturday.
The pickoff was a microcosm of the contest, as D/NC made mistake after mistake on the basepaths, from getting picked off (three times) to not sliding twice, resulting in outs.
Weiss and Rose combined to allow just three hits. The duo did walk seven, but D/NC was unable to capitalize, largely due to its own woes.
“We had a tough time on the bases,” D/NC manager Jason Schofield said. “It was a tough time to have it. Offensively, it wasn’t a strong showing, and that was compounded by the baserunning mistakes.”
Both of Monroe’s runs were scored by shortstop Joe Porricelli, who doubled in the first and later scored on an error. His second run came in the third, and he did it with his legs — reaching on an error, stealing second and advancing to third and then scoring on two wild pitches.
Darien/New Canaan’s biggest threat came in the sixth, after three walks loaded the bases for Arthur Xanthos.
After Monroe brought in Rose, Xanthos greeted him with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze to cut the deficit to one, but Rose battled back to strike out the next batter and end the threat.
Schofield also called for a double-steal earlier in the sixth that was successful, as he tried everything he could to scratch out a run in what turned out to be his team’s final game.
“We didn’t score a lot of runs all year, so that’s how you have to play knowing the team,” Schofield said. “We had some speed on the bases and I wanted to see if we could get a run in, and we did, but couldn’t get another one.”
Despite surviving with a win, Pagel hopes his team can deliver a better performance as the tournament gets deeper.
“We didn’t play well,” Pagel said. “So I’m hoping that this game we squeak by and then start playing some better baseball. We were flawless in the field, but then getting runners in scoring position and capitalizing we didn’t do, but any win is a good win.”
DARIEN/NEW CANAAN 1
DARIEN/NEW CANAAN 000 001 0 — 1 3 2
MONROE 101 000 X — 2 6 1
Batteries: DNC—Nick Walter (4, L), Michael Svagdis and Arthur Xanthos; M—Tyler Weiss (51/3, W), Jack Rose (S) and Brian Duignan. Highlights: DNC—Jamie Schofield reached base all four times he batted and scored the only run. M—Tyler Weiss threw 51/3 innings of one-run ball. Joe Porricelli doubled and scored both runs.