Trumbull wins key FCIAC baseball game from Staples

Joe Nemchek wouldn’t say he enjoys pitching with runners in scoring position.

“It’s not the greatest feeling in the world pitching with guys on base,” he said.

But the junior left-hander turned it into an art form Monday evening, working his way out of a ton of early trouble to lead the Trumbull High School baseball team to an important 2-0 victory over Staples High from Westport on another windy night at the THS field.

Staples (8-4 overall, 6-4 FCIAC) had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the first on two singles and a walk, as Nemchek struggled with his control.

But Nemchek was at his best with his back to the wall. He got out of the first-inning jam by striking out the next three batters in order and did more of the same over the next two frames.

The Wreckers had runners on first and second with one out in the second and third, but Nemchek escaped with no damage, striking out the final two batters in the third.

“After the first inning I just took a big deep breath and tried to relax,” Nemchek said. “It definitely put a lot of confidence in me.”

Nemchek ended up pitching five scoreless innings to pick up the win, improving to 3-1 on the season. Nemchek allowed just three hits while striking out 10 and walking five.

Starting third-baseman Brian Hnatuk pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the save after Nemchek left with 118 pitches.

“Joe competes every pitch, every batter, every inning,” Trumbull head coach Phil Pacelli said. “He works fast, and guys like playing behind him. He wasn’t as sharp as he usually is. He had a lot of walks early on, but he really settled in.”

The Eagles have settled into their own groove, winning five straight to improve to 8-4 overall and 7-3 in the FCIAC. After scuffling against a couple of the state’s top pitchers early on, the Eagles have put themselves firmly into the FCIAC playoff picture.

“Coming into this year we had lost a lot to graduation,” Pacelli said. “I expected a rough start and some ups-and-downs. We had a lot of inexperienced players. But it was only a matter of time before our bats came around and they came around enough tonight.”

Trumbull took advantage of Staples miscues to score two runs on just one hit in the second.

Junior Chris O’Brien led off with a walk against sophomore right-hander Ryan Fitton and junior Alex Rauso reached on an infield error one out later.

Connor Smith grounded into what looked like it might be a tailor-made double play, but second-baseman Marco Latella dropped the ball before he could get the first out and everyone was safe.

Senior Matt Fasoli gave Trumbull a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly and second-baseman Dino DiGirolamo put the Eagles up 2-0 with a sharp single to center.

That would end up being the first of just three hits for Trumbull against Fitton. Marcus Nieves beat out an infield single in the third and Justin Waldek had a nice bunt single in the sixth.

Staples left 12 runners on base. The Wreckers had two on with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Hnatuk struck Sean Clarke out looking to end the game.

“We took advantage of their mistakes and didn’t make any ourselves,” Pacelli said. “We played a pretty clean game, and that’s what you have to do.”

The recent winning streak has made the Eagles believe this season could end up being something to remember.

“This feels great. This is what baseball is all about,” Nemchek said. “I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. This is a great bunch of guys, and there’s something special about this team.”

Trumbull will visit St. Joseph on Friday at 4:15 p.m.