DARIEN — It was an epic battle between FCIAC softball division leaders.

Darien provided a Blue Wave of drama Monday as it scored single runs in the fifth and sixth along with a three-run uprising in the bottom of the seventh to down previously unbeaten Stamford 5-4.

“After falling behind 4-0, it would have been easy to hang our heads and move on to tomorrow. But our two big mottos are ‘Stop the Bleeding’ and ‘Don’t Give Up!’” Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. “We just kept chipping away to give ourselves a chance in the last inning.”

The Darien offense had the final say thanks to junior Stefani Gentile’s one-out, two-run pinch-hit double to forge a 4-4 deadlock. Junior Keilani Caruso sent the capacity crowd home before the rains came with a two-out RBI single to right.

“The last at-bat was nerve-wracking. But I didn’t want to let our team down because we’d been fighting back since the fifth inning,” Caruso said. “I was looking for pitches down the middle or inside. (Stamford pitcher Sara Staley) had gotten me out in my first three at-bats (two grounders, one infield popup) on pitches on the outside of the plate.”

The defense for East Division leader Darien (8-2, 6-0 FCIAC) made its presence felt over the final four innings.

West Division leader Stamford (9-1, 5-1 FCIAC) will have pangs of regret as the Black Knights left nine runners on base (seven in scoring position) in innings four through seven.

“Our pitcher (Sophia Barbour), she bent but did not break,” DeMaio said. “Our defense made the big plays in the big moments.”

Stamford scored four runs in the third inning for a 4-0 edge. One run scored on a Darien error. Another crossed on a wild pitch. Lauren O’Neill, who will be playing softball at Adelphi University in the fall, stroked a two-run single to center.

Stamford left-hander Staley allowed just one single and no flyball outs over the opening four innings.

Senior Kristen Picard got Darien on the board with a leadoff solo homer in the fifth. Barbour aided her cause with a two-out solo homer to center field in the sixth for 4-2.

The bottom of the order ignited the Blue Wave in the seventh. Jess Carlo drew a one-out walk and Caroline Krueger stroked a double to right. That set the stage for Gentile and Caruso.

“Our determination comes from the leadership of our captains. They make us believe there is always time to come back,” Caruso said. “Our field is a special place where we’ve built a lot of memories. Our teams bond here. We feel nobody can come into our house and beat us.”

Stamford, the FCIAC softball runnerup the past two seasons, will have to wait until playoff time for another shot at Darien.

“My hat is off to Darien,” Stamford coach Tony Esposito said. “We didn’t tack on runs when we had the chances. Darien rallied and won it and earned it.”

rdepreta@stamfordadvocate

.com

DARIEN 5, STAMFORD 4

STAMFORD 004 000 0—4 6 0

DARIEN 000 011 3—5 8 3

Records: Stamford 9-1, 5-1 FCIAC; Darien 8-2, 6-0 FCIAC.

Batteries: S—Sara Staley (L) and Tori Cuscuna. D—Sophia Barbour (W) and Carline Krueger. HR—Kristen Picard (D), Barbour (D).

Highlights: D—Stefani Gentile pinch-hit, two-run double, Keilani Caruso RBI single in bottom of 7th to give Darien the victory.