STAMFORD — One year ago, Stamford Senior Legion tasted defeat in a season-ending state tournament loss at home. In that game, starting pitcher Peter Horn came out in the fifth inning with an injury. This time around, in game two of a best-of-three series with Trumbull, Horn and Stamford didn’t let history repeat itself and ran away with a 7-1 victory over Trumbull at Cubeta Stadium on Thursday.
Stamford advances to the four-team, double-elimination division championship that begins Saturday.
“These guys are warriors, they came out here and they smelled the finish line right away,” Stamford coach Kevin Murray said. “We wanted to definitely come out and win the first game, we wanted to keep it easy for ourselves. Pete Horn pitched a great game. He challenged and he had his ace stuff today.”
After ending the regular season with a series sweep of Trumbull, the two were at it again at Cubeta Stadium, this time in the state tournament. On Wednesday night, Anthony Frangiose saved the day for Stamford after hitting an eighth-inning grand slam to win the game, 5-1.
Stamford went off hitting in game two and played solid defense to hold Trumbull to one run.
“I had a good feeling going into today’s game with the bats,” Murray said. “Our team is too talented to be quiet two games in a row.”
Trumbull got its only run of the game in the bottom of the first off of an RBI single from Matt Fasoli.
Stamford challenged with a productive second inning, starting off with a single from Shawn Urbano, who then stole second base. A Johnny Spoto walk and a hard hit down the right foul line from Luke Dawson brought Urbano home for Stamford’s game-tying run.
Things picked up again in the top of the fourth after a double from Spoto, a sacrifice bunt from Eddie Meizels and a Dawson single. Up came Randy Polonia, who singled into left field, bringing Spoto home. Kevin Stone followed with another RBI single to increase the lead to 3-1.
Defensively, the outfield shined with key catches coming in centerfield and rightfield, respectively, from Dawson and Urbano. On the mound, Horn started to find his groove.
“The first inning was rough but I was able to bounce back,” he said.
Horn began the bottom of the fourth with a strikeout, and fielded a ball to get the out at first base. After allowing a walk, he came back to pick off a Trumbull runner who had taken a large lead at first base.
Horn continued to be in his zone in the bottom of the fifth, preventing Trumbull from putting together any scoring efforts. Catcher Cris Ruiz also came up with his second of two successful long throws to second base to catch a runner stealing.
The top of the sixth brought in three more runs for Stamford, beginning with a single from Stone and two walks that loaded the bases. Urbano came up and singled, bringing in a run, and Ryan Lee followed with a sacrifice fly that brought in another. Spoto notched another hit and an RBI before the inning ended.
Dawson ended all scoring in the top of the ninth with a solo home run. Horn pitched into the eighth before Urbano and Polonia came in as relievers.
“You definitely get tired after the sixth or seventh inning, and it’s hard,” Horn said. “You just got to use your legs and trust your stuff, and don’t try to aim the ball.”
The victory is even sweeter given the motivation after last year’s disappointing loss.
“Pete started that game and when he got hurt we had to take him out in the fifth inning. When this came around, I kind of had it planned out in my head,” Murray said.
“Definitely a thought in my mind coming into this game that we don’t want a game three,” Horn said.
Stamford advances now with a chance to win the division and play for the state championship.
“It’s great, we work all year on the little things and we try to prepare the kids for all scenarios that could happen during the game,” Murray said. “These kids just came out and played a great game of baseball for nine innings.”