Mind over matter leads to victory
It was a mental image that Brendan Moore had used as a motivational tool when the former Trumbull High standout rehabilitated not one, but two knee injuries over the winter months.
A four-year member of the Trumbull Post 141 American Legion baseball program, Moore gutted it through the summer season a year ago, before having surgery in January to repair his right knee. He takes cortisone shots to alleviate the pain caused by a patella tear in his left knee.
Yet, Moore was ready to go in right field when manager Brett Connor’s Legionnaires played host to visiting Darien in the second game of the summer, and the first game of a twinbill on June 15.
Moore stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and runners on second and third. Trumbull had already scored four runs to tie the game at 5.
“I just ran as hard as I could,” was how Moore explained beating out a slow roller to shortstop for an infield hit that scored Luke Waldek with the go-ahead run. “When the doctor said with a quick recovery I could play this summer it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.”
Matt Baccaro completed a stellar five-plus inning relief performance by setting Darien down in order in the seventh.
Post 141 went on to win the second game 10-7 to improve to 3-0 on the season. Trumbull opened with its Zone IV season with a 6-1 victory over Easton on June 12. Wilton defeated Trumbull, 2-0, on June 16.
“(Thomas) Carruthers was lights out for them until we caught a break,” said Connor, who is assisted by Mark Windsor. “I was waiting for a big inning and it came in the sixth.”
While Moore’s heart willed his legs forward, Trumbull utilized its overall team speed to overcome the four-run deficit.
After Carl Johnson reached base for the third straight time with a one-out walk in the decisive frame, Darien’s Sam Gillespie came out from behind the plate and toed the rubber.
It proved to be a perfect storm for the locals: Gillespie’s high leg kick, a new catcher, and Post 141’s ability to steal bases.
Ryan Fritz walked before Gillespie put the second out in the book on strikes.
Simon Whiteman came through with Trumbull’s fifth hit, a hard single to center, to score Johnson.
The runners advanced on the throw home, and Fritz scored on a wild pitch.
With Whiteman on third, Brandon Liscinsky walked on a 3-2 pitch, and when the ball kicked a few yards to the right, Whiteman got a good jump to score.
Liscinsky stole second and Tyler Graziani followed with a tough grounder to shortstop. Graziani beat the low throw, and Liscinsky read the play perfectly and never stopped running from second base to tie the game at 5. Graziani stole second and Waldek walked. After a wild pitch put both in scoring position, Moore motored his way to first with an RBI infield hit.
Trumbull took a 1-0 lead for starter Tim Keckler in the first, as Whiteman reached on an error, stole second and Graziani drove him home with a single.
A pair of walks and a throwing error gave fuel to Darien’s five unearned-run rally in the second.
Darien put runners on base the next four innings, but Baccaro pitched out of trouble. He allowed two hits, walked four, but most importantly didn’t allow a run.
Catcher Casey Mack made a highlight-reel diving catch of a foul pop towards the first base side with two runners on base in the fourth.
Liscinsky and Graziani had two hits each.
“We are pretty young, especially on our pitching staff with only Stanley Wolpiuk getting a lot of varsity innings this spring,” Connor said.
“The kids are hungry, and I love to coach tough and hungry kids that really get along.”
Trumbull will host Fairfield in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. at Trumbull High on Saturday. Greenwich pays a visit Sunday at 10.