Legion baseball: Trumbull loses rubber game to Stamford
TRUMBULL — Legion baseball centers on pitching. Trumbull Post 141 and Stamford Post 3 are two of Zone 4's best clubs. Each sent out a right-handed pitcher with different pedigrees when they played the rubber game of a three-game series on Sunday at Trumbull High.
Seasoned pitcher Grant Purpora took the hill for Stamford. Purpora lived up to his billing from Fairfield Prep and now Drew University, as he tossed a three-hitter in Stamford's 2-0 victory.
"Legion is a pitchers league with the wood bats and everything," Purpora said. "You have to focus on throwing strikes to different spots and let your defense make plays. We feel good with Montana (Semmel), Matt (Tiplady), Bobby (Cribbin) and Chris (Candido) in the rotation."
"We will ride our pitching," Stamford head coach Kevin Murray he said. "We were able to scratch out two runs. Grant was great today."
Trumbull countered with Matt Delaney, a sometime thrower and all-around player who caught both games of Saturday's doubleheader that saw the rivals split decisions.
"Matt gave us a much-needed start," Post 141 head coach Jack McFarland said of his rising senior at Trumbull High. "He kept them at bay and then Dan Massaro and Kevin Bruggeman came in for the last two innings. Grant is a quality pitcher for them and had good stuff."
Stamford resides atop the Northwest Division in the Zone with a 9-2 record. It is followed in the standings by Westport, Greenwich, Ridgefield and Norwalk
Trumbull is 6-2 to lead the Northeast Division. Stratford, Fairfield and Wilton follow.
"Chances are we will see Trumbull again in the postseason," Murray said. "We take it one game at a time."
Stamford defeated Trumbull 7-6 in the first game of Saturday's twin bill at Cubeta Stadium, before Post 141 won the nightcap 3-0 behind the pitching of Ryan Gomes.
"The top two teams in each of the divisions in Zone 4 make the playoffs, along with the team with the next best record," McFarland said prior to the game. "Stamford is a rival, but they are in the other division and we have a busy week."
Trumbull has games slated Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Stamford plays Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"The schedule, because of the rain, puts stress on the staff," McFarland said. "Our goal (by season end) is to be in that top five. Summer ball is day to day. Each game you run out the best lineup you can."
Purpora and Delaney matched zeroes for three innings.
Stamford's Joe Skarad walked on a 3-2 pitch with out in the fourth, stole second, and scored on Semmel's RBI single through the hole into left.
A bobbled infield grounder placed runners on the corners for Reid Gesualdi, who singled the other way to right center to make it 2-0.
Skarad had two fine plays behind the plate between a one-out walk to John Welch in the home third. He blocked strike three and threw to first for one out, then pounced on a sac bunt and from the ground threw the batter out at first. Purpora caught the next batter looking at strike three.
Delaney left runners on second and third with a jam pitch pop up followed by a fly ball out.
Trumbull's best chance came in the bottom of the fourth.
Tim Lojko reached on an infield error. With one out, Chris Briganti hit the ball deep into the hole at second. The infield hit plus an error on the play put two runners in scoring position. Purpora got out of the jam with a soft liner and a fly ball.
Stamford threatened again in the sixth off Massaro.
Semmel walked and Shane Hackett singled for Post 3's third hit. A walk loaded the bases, but Massaro left the bags full with a strikeout.
Lojko dropped a great bunt down the third base line with one out in the sixth to bring the tying run to the plate. Noah Skaug made a great play in left field on a hit-and-run bloop off the bat of Massaro, and Purpora's fourth strikeout ended the frame.
Jaden Dawkins was hit by a pitch and stole second in the seventh for Stamford. Bruggeman got the next two batters on ground outs to Delaney, now playing shortstop.
Robert Goldsmith doubled with two down in the Trumbull seventh. Purpora retired the side with a fly ball to Gesualdi in right.
STAMFORD 2, TRUMBULL 0
Stamford 000 200 0 -- 2 3 2
Trumbull 000 000 0 -- 0 3 1
Batteries: Stamford - Grant Purpora (WP) and Joe Skarad; Trumbull - Matt Delaney (LP), 13 (6), Kevin Bruggeman (7) and Robert Goldsmith
Records: Stamford 9-2; Trumbull 6-2