BRIDGEPORT — Before there was “yes, yes, yes, yes” on Wednesday night there was “go, go, go, go.”
Those were the words Darien baseball coach Mike Scott admitted were going through his mind as Sean O’Malley’s fly ball sailed toward the leftfield fence. When it landed just beyond the reach of Trumbull’s Alex Rauso, the Blue Wave had a 3-2 win in eight innings at Harbor Yard and their first FCIAC championship since 1981.
The Blue Wave were too busy charging O’Malley on the field in celebration to utter the words for the last time this conference season that greets all of their runs.
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
“He got a good of piece it,” said Scott, who was born and raised in Darien, a star for the team he now coaches, whose final season was the year before the school’s last appearance in the final, in 1998. “When he’s hitting that way he’s at his best. You get down emotionally at the top of the 8th inning and to come back… Get two runners on and execute a few plays. What a baseball game.”
For seven innings the Blue Wave’s Rich Brereton and Trumbull’s Joe Nemchek were unyielding. Darien got a run in the first when Brereton doubled and Casey Brown singled, and the Eagles answered in the third, on the first of Kris DiCocco’s two RBIs.
From there the two pitchers matched each other working in and out of jams. Darien stranded 14 runners, Trumbull six.
“I felt good all day,” said Brereton, who went the distance. “I knew I had my defense behind me like always. I knew whatever I threw I had confidence in myself to throw strikes and my defense to make plays. Joe Nemchek did a heck of a job. He’s a heck of a pitcher, one of the best we’ve seen all year.”
Trumbull (17-8), the No. 3 seed, which was playing in its fourth league final in the last five years, broke through in the eighth when Andrew Lojko hit a leadoff single, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on DiCocco’s base hit.
It has been seven years since the top seed has won this tournament, and the Blue Wave lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Wilton a year ago.
Darien (22-3) has been as mentally tough as physically able all spring, and with Nemchek out of the game battled back. Mark Schmidt singled, Matt Drake was safe on a misplayed sacrifice bunt and Justin Jordan bunted both runners into scoring position.
James Schofield’s fly out tied the game, with Drake going to third. Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli opted to issue a pair of intentional walks, bringing O’Malley to the plate.
“I threw my helmet off and headed to first,” O’Malley said. “I didn’t know if I got all of it.”
O’Malley was also one of the last to know of his heroics: he never saw the ball drop.
“I was running at the first base coach,” said O’Malley, who was mobbed by his teammates. “It is the best feeling ever. It’s awesome.”
Brereton finished with a six-hitter.
“He’s our everything. If he is not conference player of the year tomorrow, I don’t know who is,” said Scott, referring to Thursday’s All-League voting. “He does everything for us at the plate, on the mound, in the field and today to keep a lineup like that down for eight innings.”
Brereton said it took a while for the wounds to heal from last season’s semifinal loss.
“Last year we kind of choked in the semifinals, we got tight and tonight we played our game and it feels awesome,” he said.
Darien is still known as a lacrosse town, and the sport will take over center stage on Thursday when the boys and girls teams play for conference titles.
But Wednesday night belonged to Scott, his players and his hometown team.
“We’re a baseball town and we believe that,” Brereton said.