St. Joseph baseball tops Darien, clinches FCIAC playoff bid
The St. Joseph Cadets baseball team defeated The Darien Blue Wave 8-4 on Monday afternoon at Darien High School.
“We did some unconventional things today and that’s by design,” said Darien head coach Mike Scott, whose team has already clinched a spot in the FCIAC tournament. “We wanted to win this game but at the same time we have to have guys ready for the end of the week.”
The win clinches an FCIAC tournament berth for the Cadets, who are now fourth in the standings. Darien dropped to fifth place with one game remaining.
“They knew what was at stake,” said St. Joseph head coach Jim Chaves. “The kids are juiced up for the playoff-type atmosphere and that’s what they got here today.”
With the game tied at 3-3 in the seventh, Charlie Pagliarini came up with one out and the bases loaded. He worked the count full before drawing a walk to bring home Owen Horne, who had reached on an error to lead off the inning, with the go-ahead run. That was the capper on a big day for Pagliarini at the plate.
“You have to stay in control. I was just happy to work a good count and help my team out with a walk,” said Pagliarini.
St. Joseph (13-6 overall, 10-5 FCIAC) got on the board in the first. Stephen Paolini led off the game with a single to center. Two batters later, after Paolini stole second, he came in to score on a single to left by Jim Evans to put the Cadets up 1-0.
Darien (13-6, 10-5) would tie the game in the bottom of the second. Max Gasvoda doubled to left field with one out. Nick Conte then singled to center field to bring home Gasvoda and even up the score.
With two outs in the third, Justin Jordan would give way on the mound for Henry Williams as Scott wanted to get them both work in.
The game would remain tied until the fifth where Darien take the lead. Fin Batson walked to lead off the inning. He then stole second and went to third on a single by Jordan. Batson came in to score on a fielder's on a fielder’s choice to shortstop by Williams in which Jordan was forced out at second. The Blue Wave were on top 2-1.
“We’ve been playing ahead the majority of the season so it was good to see us actually fall behind and come back and win a game late in the game.”
The Cadets went back in front in the sixth against Darien reliever Jackson Vaught. Evans led off with a single before Pagliarini blasted a two-run home run to right-center field to give St. Joseph a 3-2 lead.
“I’ve been struggling a bit at the plate so I was happy to get a good swing on the ball and help my team out,” said Pagliarini.
Darien would once again tie the game in the bottom half of the sixth inning. The Blue Wave loaded the bases as Arthur Xanthos led off with a single, Mac McLean reached on an error and, after a strikeout, Gasvoda drew a walk. Conte \hit a ball deep enough to left field to bring in Xanthos to knot the score at 3-3.
After Pagliarini’s walk to give the Cadets the lead in the seventh, they wouldn’t go away. Jack Matthews and Connor Murphy each had two run doubles of their own to give St. Joseph an 8-3 lead.
“I just think kids personally realized what was at stake there in those last two innings and they grinded out some at-bats,” said Chaves.
Darien would try to come back in the bottom of the seventh. Jordan led off with a double and two batters later, Sean O’Malley brought him home to cut the deficit to 8-4. The Blue Wave would bring the tying run to the plate twice later in the inning but were unable to get any closer.
“You just try to avoid the crooked number and unfortunately the game got away from us a little bit late,” said Scott.
Hayden Gourley threw the first six innings for St. Joseph, allowing three runs, two earned on four hits. He struck out three and walked four. Trent Price pitched the seventh to finish out the game.
“Hayden’s been solid his last couple outings. This is a really quality lineup and I think he held them in check for much of the game,” said Chaves.
Darien will finish their regular season on Wednesday when they host Norwalk at 4 p.m.
“We’re fortunate that today’s game didn’t hold us back from anything in the future,” said Scott.
St. Joseph will be right back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Westport to take on the Staples Wreckers at 4 p.m. in the final regular season game.
“There was a lot of hustle going on out there and a couple guys delivered some real big hits out there today,” said Chaves.
St. Joseph 8, Darien 4
Monday, May 14, at DHS
St. Joseph 1-0-0-0-0-2-5 8 runs, 10 hits, 3 errors
Darien 0-1-0-0-1-1-1 4 runs, 8 hits, 3 errors
SJ - Hayden Gourley (W), Trent Price (7) and Aaron Kirby
D - Justin Jordan, Henry Williams (3), Jackson Vaught (6, L) and Arthur Xanthos
St. Joseph Highlights
Jimmy Evans - 3-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI
Charlie Pagliarini - HR, BB, 2 runs, 3 RBIs
Jack Matthews - 2-for-4, 1 run, 2 RBIs
Justin Jordan - 2-for-4, 2B, 1 run
Max Gasvoda - 2-for-3, 2B, BB, 1 run
Sean O’Malley - 1B, BB, 1 RBI