Baseball: Trumbull defeats St. Joseph in bottom of seventh

Kris DiCocco singled in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Danny Ruchalski and give Trumbull High a 2-1 victory over visiting St. Joseph in the FCIAC baseball quarterfinals on Friday.

DiCocco’s base hit came with no outs and made a winner out of Eagle left-hander Joe Nemchek.  “Our team played great, made all the plays in the field,” DiCocco said. “He (Nemchek) has been our ace since day one, and that’s great that he put all seven innings out there. He threw his heart out. We picked him up right there and that felt great.”

Third-seeded Trumbull (12-5 FCIAC) will play seventh-seeded Fairfield Warde (11-6 FCIAC) in the second semifinal set for the Ballpark at Harbor Yard  at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. Warde defeated No. 2 Greenwich, 8-1.

Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said, “Joe was outstanding today. He’s a battler. He wanted the ball and he delivered. It took a while for us to get our zero off the board.”

After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Nemchek shutout the sixth-seeded Cadets (10-7 FCIAC) on one hit the rest of the way. He set down the last eight batters he faced and finished with six strikeouts and three walks.

“I put a lot into this,” said Nemchek. “I take that one run very seriously. I couldn’t do it without my guys, it was a complete team effort. You had Dustin (five assists by Siqueira at second base) flying after balls. You had everybody in the dugout telling me ‘It will be okay Joe, just keep us in the game.’”

Connor Hurley suffered a tough loss. A senior right-hander, Hurley took a one-hitter into the sixth inning, where Trumbull tied the game on Justin Waldek’s two-out single. Hurley struck out four and walked four, two in the seventh inning.

“Unbelievable, he’s done that all year long,” St Joseph coach Jim Chaves said of Hurley. “He hasn’t received much run support. I’ll take the blame for the seventh, I kept him there too long….He’s a senior and I leaned on him and I leaned on him too long.”

Ruchalski walked on a 3-1 pitch to open Trumbull’s seventh. It was the first free pass issued by Hurley since the second inning. Siqueira sacrificed him into scoring position, and Ruchalski went to third on a wild pitch. Andrew Lojko then walked on four pitches to bring up DiCocco, who lined a single on a 3-1 pitch.

“Their kid got the two out hit, good for him,” Cheves said. “We just didn’t get enough of those hits today.”

St. Joseph’s Jake DeLeo led off the game with a double to center field. He went to third on Dave Capela’s infield grounder and scored on Matt McKernan’s sacrifice fly.

Trumbull rallied with one out in the sixth inning.

Alex Rauso singled into right field and Chris O’Brien fought off a tough pitch and dunked it over Neil Velasquez’ head at shortstop. Hurley retired Robert Olah on a fielder’s choice, before Waldek lined a 1-0 pitch into center to tie the game.

St. Joseph wasted a leadoff walk to Tom Montelli in the second and McKernan’s single to start the fourth. In neither frame did a runner get past first.

  1. J. Arnone walked with one out in the fifth, but Nemchek had settled in. He gave up his curveball and used his two and four-seam fastball to set down the last eight batters he faced.

DiCocco walked with two out in the first, but Trumbull’s first threat came in the second.

O’Brien lead off with a walk and Olah singled to left field. Hurley then struck out two batters around a fielder’s choice grounder.

Waldek reached first on the game’s only error to open the fifth. Vinny DeRubeis’ sac bunt was played to second base, where Waldek was safe. Ruchalski sacrificed both runners into scoring position.

Hurley put the second out in the book on strikes, before first baseman Al Paolizzi made the defensive play of the game. Diving to his left to snare Lojko’s hard hit over the bag, Paolizzi got to one knee and threw a strike to Hurley covering first for the third out.

“He (Hurley) did a phenomenal job with his slider working away from us,” Pacelli said. “We couldn’t get much solid contact there. We’re not going to put up big numbers offensively. We try to execute in situational hitting, get bunts down, sacrifices, make contact.”