MIDDLETOWN — With his pitching staff depleted after three straight games in the American Legion Southern Super Regionals, Trumbull coach Jack McFarland told Tuesday’s starter, Michael D’Agostino, that he would have to pitch the best game of his life if his team was to stay alive.
D’Agostino got into a bit of trouble early on, but settled in, using his curveball effectively and picking up the complete-game 3-2 victory over Stamford.
The win by Trumbull forces a deciding game Wednesday back at Palmer Field at 6:30 p.m. with a trip to the state championship series on the line.
D’Agostino said he felt better as the game progressed, especially when using his breaking ball.
“My curveball wasn’t that good in warmups, but once I started getting loose on the mound, it started getting better,” D’Agostino said. “I just really try to pitch to contact and trust my defense behind me because they are the best defense in the state. It felt really good to finish the game by myself.”
In spite of his “pitch to contact” strategy, D’Agostino recorded five strikeouts.
Stamford got on the board first in the top of the second with two runs.
With two outs and two on, TJ Wainwright hit a grounder just inside the third baseline, scoring Hunter Semmel from second base. Michael Tuffano followed with a single to left which was bobbled by the left fielder, allowing Adam Stone to score from second.
Trumbull answered with a two-out run in the bottom of the second when Dan Ruchalski singled home Andrew Lojko who reached base via a single.
Trumbull grabbed a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of back-to-back bases-loaded walks.
Stamford, which has hit well so far in the state tournament, could only muster four hits against D’Agostino.
“We are not going to win many games with four hits,” Stamford coach Kevin Murray said. “We have been close to 10 hits each game. We didn’t have that one big inning today. You have to tip your cap to Trumbull, they are a very good club. We have to come out and pound the baseball, especially if they are stretched with arms. We have to turn the page and it is do or die baseball tomorrow.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dan Ruchalski, Trumbull. The right fielder had a RBI single, and picked up another RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the fourth.
“(D’Agostino) started mixing in his curveball and when they started looking for curveballs, he would beat them with his fastball and get some pop ups. He was mixing both pitches really well,” McFarland said. “They are aggressive, they don’t take a lot of pitches and he used their aggression against them a little bit.”
COME FLY WITH ME
D’Agostino got 10 outs in the air, using the spacious Palmer Field outfield to his advantage, pitching up in the zone, inducing flyouts and pop ups.
TRUMBULL 3, STAMFORD 2
STAMFORD 020 000 0—2 4 0
TRUMBULL 010 200 x—3 5 2
Batteries: S—Michael Lisinicchia (L), Bobby Cribbin (5) and Tim Mira; T—Michael D’Agostino (W) and Alex Rauso.