By Hayley Tafuro
NEW CANAAN — There was no question the Trumbull baseball team would be hungry for Tuesday’s FCIAC Tournament quarterfinal game with New Canaan after their previous meeting six days earlier. This time the Eagles got the job done with a 7-3 win over the Rams after putting on a show in the seventh inning.
Not to mention, they got it done to survive and advance to the semifinals.
“We came in here ready to play,” said Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli. “It wasn’t looking good, but we stayed in it and we didn’t quit. We played seven full innings and that’s what you have to do.”
A rowdier crowd than usual came to Mead Park as No. 4 New Canaan and No. 5 Trumbull squared off for a rematch of what was a storybook ending for New Canaan, which scored seven runs in the seventh inning to erase a 4-0 deficit, climaxed by Alex LaPolice’s walkoff home run, but Trumbull had a different idea this time.
The drama began in the bottom of the first, when New Canaan’s Matt Toth took a pitch to his helmet and face that sidelined him for the rest of the game and sent Kyle Levasseur on base in his place.
A pitchers’ duel continued between the Rams’ Dan Rajkowski and the Eagles’ Colin Keyes as both teams were held scoreless until the top of the third, when Trumbull’s Jake Levison came through with an RBI and put the Eagles on the board.
New Canaan was quick to answer in the bottom of the third, with Brandon Abate driving in the first run to tie the game.
The Eagles could not seem to find an answer as the momentum stayed on New Canaan’s side. Nick Cascione delivered a home run in the bottom of the fourth, putting the Rams ahead, 2-1, and Rajkowski’s pitching helped keep the cushion alive.
Things were not looking good for Trumbull as New Canaan had a 3-1 lead after Kane Curtin drove home Zach Smith with a hit in the bottom of the sixth.
Then Trumbull decided to write its own ending.
New Canaan sent in two relief pitchers, Alex LaPolice and Clark Newlove, in hopes to seal the outcome, but errors began to plague the Rams at the worst time. This allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 3-3.
Liam Moore put Trumbull up a run after notching an RBI with a single into rightfield, and shortly after Keyes hit a long drive to centerfield, sending two Eagles home and extending the lead to 6-3. Topping off the monstrous inning, Avery Santos added another hit and put Trumbull ahead, 7-3.
However, Trumbull retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, icing the victory and clinching a spot in Wednesday’s semifinal game against Greenwich.
Keyes was in control the entire game for Trumbull and took a key role in the rally that propelled the Eagles.
“Those are all things we work on in practice,” Pacelli said. “And he’s our go-to guy for spots like this, our most experienced pitcher.”