Staples rallies past Trumbull and into Class LL semifinals
WESTPORT — The seniors on the Staples baseball team were not going to let their final game come at home in the CIAC Class LL quarterfinals.
A season after being knocked out in the quarterfinals, No. 5 Staples rallied from down two runs going into the bottom of the sixth, scoring eight times in the inning and picking up the 12-6 win over No. 13 Trumbull.
Staples advances to the semifinals where it will meet No. 1 Cheshire on Tuesday.
Cheshire knocked Staples out of the quarterfinals last season and Staples knocked Cheshire out two seasons ago in the first round.
Cheshire won Class LL in 2018 and Staples won the title in 2017.
“There were a lot of things at stake here. Last year, we got knocked out in the quarterfinals at Cheshire. This year, we were lucky enough to pay this game at home,” Staples catcher/pitcher Chad Knight said. “We set a school record with 23 wins in a season. That’s huge for Coach (Jack) McFarland. For all the seniors, this was going to be our last game at Staples and it certainly is emotional. We wanted to go out on a better note.”
After catching all game, Knight came on in relief in the top of the sixth, striking out three batters with two runners on and keeping the Trumbull lead at 6-4.
Knight was then in the middle of the Wreckers’ rally, singling home a run and eventually scoring the winning run on a wild pitch.
Trailing by two, Chris Veneruso reached on an infield error and Jake D’Amico was hit by a pitch.
Knight then singled in Veneruso with a grounder through the hole between short and third.
After a walk to Drew Rogers, Zach Zobel tied the game with a single up the middle, scoring D’Amico.
Two pitches later, Knight came dashing home with the go-ahead run, making it 7-6 Wreckers.
Not done yet, Staples would tack on RBI hits by Adam Petro and Charlie Roof and a bases-loaded walk to Andrew Moy.
Staples sent 11 batters to the plate, eight different players scored and five had RBIs in the sixth.
Trumbull’s pitching simply ran out as the game progressed and Staples took advantage.
“We gave them a great game today,” Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said. “It’s tough to say goodbye to these seniors right now. Especially a kid like Kevin Bruggeman. He’s the best catcher in the state and he’s been just a pleasure to coach the last three years that I’ve been putting his name in the lineup card. We’re going to miss him.”
For his part, Bruggeman did all he could both behind the plate defensively and batting.
Bruggeman was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run to left in the third and a RBI single in the fifth.
His run in the third put Trumbull up 2-0.
Staples answered with two runs in the fourth on a two-run single to center by Veneruso.
Trumbull went up 6-2 in the top of the fifth, with Bruggeman plating one and Ray Leonzi driving in two with a single.
Staples got two back in bottom five on a two-run home run to left by Rogers, cutting the lead to 6-4.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chad Knight, Staples. Winning pitcher, scored the winning run.
“I said at the beginning of the year, Trumbull was the best team besides us in the FCIAC. They have athletes everywhere, they have a Division I catcher (Bruggeman) and you have (UConn commit Chris) Brown and a couple left-handed hitters. They’re good and they’re dangerous and this was a dangerous game, for us,” McFarland said. “Our guys were very determined. This is our sixth elimination game in a row, with FCIACs and states. We were able to survive today and we kept fighting back.”
STAPLES 12, TRUMBULL 6
TRUMBULL 002 040 0—6 9 3
STAPLES 000 228 X—12 10 3
Batteries: T—Justin Nyarady, Bryan Kraus (4), Chris Brown (L, 5), Ryan Vawter (6) and Kevin Bruggeman; S—Russell Krauss, Justin Lessing (5), Chad Knight (W, 6) and Chad Knight and Ben Schattman.