Greenwich pitcher J.T. Hintzen has been the No. 3 starter all season, but heading into Monday's FCIAC quarterfinal matchup with Staples he was told to be ready for middle relief should the opportunity arise.
With starter Ryan Marks a little shaky early on, walking five and allowing two runs in the first three innings, the top-seeded Cardinals turned to Hintzen. The Cardinals' reliever promptly held the No. 8 Wreckers at two runs, allowing his team to come back for a 3-2 walkoff win in the seventh inning.
"(Greenwich Coach Mike Mora) said I was in middle relief today and I just came out with the same approach I always have, throw strikes and get outs" Hintzen said. "I was just throwing good pitches and trying to get out as effectively as possible."
Hintzen allowed just one hit over the final four innings, striking out four to pick up the win.
Greenwich will now face No. 5 Trumbull Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport in the conference semifinals.
For the Wreckers, the game was seemingly a microcosm of their season. They failed to put the Cardinals away with runners on base early in the game, before shooting themselves in the foot with errors at the worst possible moment.
"It's a 2-2 ball game, we are playing a team that is 17-3 and we came in here expecting to win," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "We fought hard, we played hard, things got a little away from us in the seventh inning but I am proud of my kids. We did what we had to do, we just didn't execute on the defensive end late in the game."
In the bottom of the seventh, Greenwich's Vincent Ferraro reached on an error and moved to second on a throw over the first baseman's head.
Liam O'Neil then bunted to try and move Ferraro over, but the throw to first again sailed high, allowing Ferraro to come home with the winning run.
"It was a typical Staples-Greenwich game. It's two good teams, no matter what our records are it's always going to be like that." Mora said. "In that situation we have to get the runner to third and Liam did his job and then some. We put the pressure on them and they threw the ball away."
Staples scored in the second inning without the benefit of a hit as Marks walked four batters but struck out Sam Ellinwood looking with the bases loaded.
The Cardinals got on the board in the bottom of the third when a throwing error on a groundball by Ferraro allowed Ricky Okazaki to score. The Cardinals then tied it in the fifth on a bloop single by O'Neil that scored Taylor Olmstead.
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Greenwich 3, Staples 2
STAPLES 011 000 0 -- 2 3 4
GREENWICH 001 010 1 -- 3 6 0
Records: Staples 12-9; Greenwich 18-3.