Staples baseball falls in FCIAC quarterfinals to Greenwich
The Staples baseball team posted a 17-3 record during the regular season to secure the FCIAC's top seed and a presumed advantage once the playoffs began Tuesday.
The Wreckers had their outstanding season and conference title hopes all evaporate in eight innings thanks to another sparkling performance by one of the best pitchers in the league.
Greenwich ace Kyle Dunster fired seven-plus innings of two-run ball, and Kevin Woodring hit a three-run double in the top of the eighth inning as the Cardinals advanced to the FCIAC semifinals for a third straight season with a 6-2, eight-inning win over No. 1 Staples. No. 8 Greenwich will meet New Canaan on Wednesday in the semis.
Woodring doubled off Wreckers reliever Ben Casparius after the Cardinals (14-7) drew three walks in the frame. Woodring hit a shot over the center fielder that cleared the bases before a pinch runner scored on a wild pitch to make the score 6-2.
"(Woodring) stepped up and pounded it," Greenwich coach Phil Tarantino said. "He stepped up, got his pitch, squared it up and pounded it. It obviously was a big hit; it won the game."
Dunster exited in the bottom of the eighth after Staples got the first two runners on base. JT Hintzen retired three straight to seal the win and lift Greenwich to the semifinals.
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"(Dunster) had his good stuff today," Staples coach Jack McFarland said. "He overwhelmed us a little bit. It was a good baseball game; when you have a No. 1 on the mound you can beat anyone."
The Cardinals defeated the Wreckers (17-4) 3-2 in last season's FCIAC quarterfinals. Staples returned the favor during the regular season in a 2-1, nine inning win, but Greenwich came up with the clutch hit Tuesday in another pitcher's duel.
Staples ace Rob Vallone lasted four and one third innings, allowed two runs while recording five strikeouts.
Adam Dulsky crushed a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to give Staples a 2-0 lead, but Dunster gave up little else. Dunster allowed four hits and two walks, and had nine strikeouts.
"After (the home run) I kind of got an extra bit of adrenaline because I wasn't very happy about that," Dunster said. "Everyone out there just made the plays and executed in the final inning."
Dunster cut the 2-0 deficit in half with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning, and the Cardinals were level an inning later. After No. 9 hitter Zach Monick walked and stole second, Alex Loparco hit a single up the middle with the infield drawn in.
"We've had some ups and downs; some one-run games this year," Tarantino said. "But we've worked so hard the last week and to (my players') credit they executed beautifully. They played a perfect game."
Greenwich won six of its final seven games to wrap up the final seed.
"We've talked during the year that we want to be hot entering the playoffs, and that's exactly what we are doing right now," Dunster said. "All the gears are working."
The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for Staples, which has a bye in the first round of Class LL state tournament that begins Monday.
"We'll have the pitching just sitting there waiting while the teams in front of us throw their No. 1s," McFarland said. "We're set up that for the big boy tournament; it's nice to have that bye."
Greenwich 6, Staples 2 (8 innings)
GREENWICH 000 110 04 -- 6 6 0
STAPLES 200 000 00 -- 2 4 1
Records: Greenwich 14-7, 12-7 FCIAC; Staples 17-4, 16-3.
Batteries: G -- Kyle Dunster (W, 6-2), JT Hintzen and Jon Dreher. S -- Rob Vallone, Ben Casparius (L), Justin Gallanty and Adam Dulsky. Highlights: G -- Kevin Woodring went 1-for-3 with a three-run double. Alex Loparco went 2-for-3 with an RBI. S -- Ben Casparius went 1-for-2 with two walks. Adam Dulsky went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run.