It's not over until the final pitch.
That mantra is used at every level of baseball, but the adage held true for the Greenwich Cannons and the Westport senior legion team in a seven-inning thriller at Havemeyer Field in Greenwich on Friday.
Despite trailing by two runs and down to its last out, Westport came back to tie the game on a monster home run by Frank Vartuli to left field. The Cannons were stunned, but maintained their composure and rallied in the bottom of the seventh with some two-out heroics of their own. Cam Fennell laced a single into center field, scoring Dylan Callahan for a dramatic 9-8 Greenwich win.
"In a big spot like that with the game on the line, you're just looking for a good pitch to hit," Fennell said. "I was just patient and when I got the pitch I was looking for, I was able to drive it the other way. We're happy to walk off with the win."
The game was a tight contest early as both teams put up a two-spot in the first inning. The Cannons (15-2) however, pulled ahead in the fourth inning with an offensive outburst highlighted by a two-run single by Callahan down the third-base line. They padded their lead when Taylor Olmstead took an offering from Westport starter Anthony Amaru deep for an RBI double.
In the fifth, Greenwich stayed hot at the plate, bringing home two more runs on a balk and another Callahan RBI single. The home team led 7-3 before Westport (7-7) came to life in the top of the sixth with a two-run double from Ian Burns deep in the left-field corner.
After consecutive walks by Greenwich reliever Ryan Hardin forced home another run, Westport had the bases loaded with two outs. Greenwich manager Mike Abate then turned to Bradley Wilpon, who shut the door by striking out the side to preserve the Cannons' one-run lead.
According to Westport manager Jeff Love, capitalizing on such moments is often the difference between winning and losing.
"I'm very happy with how my boys played because they fought back and showed a great deal of character," Love said. "We had some moments with runners in scoring position and we just didn't capitalize when we needed to. At the end of the day, you have to tip your cap to Greenwich for making the most of their opportunities and coming through in the clutch."
Westport did have its own clutch moment in the game thanks to Vartuli. The power-hitting first baseman seized the moment by blasting a Wilpon offering over the left-field track for a two-run homer. The mammoth shot is nothing new for Vartuli, who has been on an absolute tear this summer, hitting over .500 and crushing seven home runs in the last 14 games.
But with the game on the line, Greenwich regrouped and showed tremendous poise, stringing together a couple of infield bunts before walking off winners on Fennell's hit.
"It's never easy when a team comes back to tie the game, it puts the pressure on you to step up. But as a team, we know what to do when moments like that arrive," Fennell said. "We got hits when we needed to and did everything we could to keep the game from going any further."
Tom Forde is a freelance writer
Greenwich 9, Westport 8
WESTPORT 201 003 2--8 8 3
GREENWICH 200 321 1--9 13 0
Extra Base Hits: W Frank Vartuli (HR), Brian Terzian (2B), Ian Burns (2B); G Taylor Olmstead (2B)