FAIRFIELD — Commanding their fastballs and off-speed pitches throughout, Trumbull righthander Bryan Kraus and Fairfield Warde lefthander Zach Broderick combined for 25 strikeouts today in a classic pitchers’ duel.
With Kraus and Broderick each bringing their ‘A’ games to the mound, the FCIAC baseball rivals combined for just five hits and the Eagles delivered the one that mattered most.
Kraus struck out 14 batters for his second straight start and Dylan Moran hit a run-scoring single in visiting Trumbull’s 1-0 victory over Warde in an early-season matchup between two FCIAC contenders.
“That was a great high school baseball game,” Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said. “Both pitchers were outstanding today.”
Beginning his season with a 14-strikeout performance in Trumbull’s 5-1 win against St. Joseph, Kraus duplicated the impressive strikeout total Monday, in an outing that saw him throw just over 100 pitches in a complete-game two-hitter.
“My slider was working today and I just wanted to give the team a chance to win after a tough game on Friday,” said Kraus, who referred to the team’s loss against New Canaan in its previous game. “The off-speed pitch was really working today and I was mixing fastballs in when I needed to.”
Broderick came close to matching Kraus. He pitched a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
“He threw a great game, he did his job on the mound for us,” Warde coach Brett Conner said of Broderick. “He brought great energy. Both pitchers had electric stuff.”
Trumbull scored the game’s only run in the top of the first inning. Ray Leonzi led off the inning by reaching base on a drag bunt. The ensuing batter, Jack Gruttadauria, also bunted and reached base safely on an infield error. With one out, cleanup hitter Dylan Moran singled to right-centerfield, scoring Leonzi.
And that was all the offense for the game, as Kraus and Broderick put zeroes on the scoreboard thereafter.
“It was a very significant win for us, after a tough loss on Friday,” Kraus said. “We needed to get back into the win column.”
Kraus, who had a good rapport with catcher Scott Gell, enjoyed being matched up in a low-margin-for-error battle with Broderick.
“It’s always fun seeing someone else go out there and throw their heart out like I did,” he said.
Broderick struck out the side in the seventh inning to cap his standout pitching performance.
“I felt good, I was commanding my fastball early,” Broderick said. “The defense backed me up and helped me out most of the time. Kraus threw a great game — it was a great game by both sides.”
Roman DiGiacomo, the squad’s leadoff batter, and John Heitzman had Warde’s two hits.
“Kraus kept us off balance, he was getting the ball by us early,” Conner said. “We just have to stay zoned in. The second time around in the lineup, I wanted to see better at-bats. We need to be able to make in-game adjustments. It was definitely your good old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Kraus escaped a first-and-second jam with two outs, after Heitzman got on base with a single and Jack Andrews drew a walk.
“I was just concentrating on executing my pitches and pitch one pitch at a time,” Kraus said. “You can only do so much and, if needed, make the defense make the plays.”
Said Pacelli: “Bryan is battle-tested, it was a playoff-type atmosphere today and we expect to win when he is on the mound. Sometimes one run is all you need.”
Trumbull improved to 2-1 with the win, while the loss was the first for Warde (4-1).
“That kid shut down a really good offensive team,” Conner said of Kraus. “I watch this team hit every day in practice and in games — they can swing the bats. Tip your hat to Kraus, he shut us down. But Broderick pitched just as well, too; that game could have went either way, we just didn’t get the big hit. We’ll learn from this and I think we’ll see them again.”