Jake Amoroso rises to occasion

Jake Amoroso was handed the baseball in a big spot when the St. Joseph High senior took the hill to face the Trumbull High baseball team in an FCIAC contest on May 5.

The tall right-hander gave up a pair of first-inning runs, admitted to early-game jitters, but found his way back with some help from his friends.

“It’s all Ismael (Herrera),” Amoroso said of his catcher, after shutting down the Eagles for six innings to give the Cadets a chance to rally back to win a 4-2 decision at Trumbull High. “My two-seam fastball was working and I just let Ish call the game.”

Coach Jim Chaves’ Cadets improved to 7-4. Coach Phil Pacelli’s Eagles are now 8-4.

Trumbull, down 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, put two runners on base with one out. Amoroso ran his fastball in on the hands of the next two batters, and second baseman Dave Capela caught both infield flies to end the inning.

“First-inning jitters got to me,” said Amoroso. “I had only pitched against Trumbull once, and that was as a jayvee when I was a sophomore.

“After that (two-run rally), everyone talked about it and said, ‘Settle down, we’ve got you. We’ve got your back.”

Chaves said, “I thought Jake settled down and they’ve (Trumbull) got a pretty good lineup there. After blowing a two-run lead to Greenwich (5-4 loss on Friday), we couldn’t let another one slip away.”

Trumbull struck first, with Colin Keyes knocking in Liam Moore, who had reached on an infield single, on a ground out. Jake Levison singled and scored on a wild pitch.

Over the final six frames, Amoroso, stranded four baserunners and struck out five.

Keyes took the loss after St. Joseph tied the game in the top of the second and added runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

Mark Hirschbeck drew a walk in the second, before Nick Williams drove a hit-and-run pitch through the vacated hole at second base to put runners on first and third.

Williams stole second base and Hirschbeck scored on a wild pitch.

Keyes notched two of his eight strikeouts to get in position to escape the jam, but Capela drove a 2-2 pitch into center field to tie things at 2.

Hirschbeck and Keyes battled for eight pitches to lead off the fourth, before Hirschbeck singled to right field.

Williams again showed bat control, hitting behind the running Hirschbeck to send him to third with a single to right.

Hirschbeck scored on a wild pitch for a 3-2 lead. That robbed Matt Lavenziana of an RBI when he followed with a long fly ball.

Keyes ended the threat with a strikeout and a fine play by Matt Fasoli in right, who made an adjustment on Capela’s liner and leaned in to make the catch.

St. Joseph tacked on a key run in the fifth, and again it was Hirschbeck in the middle of the action.

Sean Hurley singled to center to lead off the inning, despite a fine diving try by Levison, who trapped the ball.

Keyes got a force out at second on Mike Rotondo’s bunt before Matt McKernan singled to left and Frank LaPagna had no play on Herrera’s grounder to shortstop.

With the bases loaded, Keyes got Hirshbeck to hit a rocket to LaPagna, who made the play to Connor Broderick at second. Hirschbeck beat the relay to first to avoid the inning-ending double play, as Rotondo scored.

“He (Keyes) didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” Pacelli said. “He’d be the first to admit that. But he kept us in the game anyway. We had our chances.”

Trumbull’s Chris Masi singled to start the second, but Herrera threw him out attempting to steal.

Levison walked with one out in the third, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch, but Amoroso garnered his first strikeout and got a flyball out.

He retired six straight batters before Rotondo served a single into right field with one out in the fifth.

A pitch caught Moore on the sleeve to put the tieing runs on base, and that’s when Herrera and Amoroso were in sync to entice a pair of infield flies.

Masi singled to open the seventh, but two strikeouts around a flyball out ended the game.