Baseball: Xavier bounces back against Branford

Xavier third baseman C.J. Caprio tags out Branford's Tyler Criscuolo in the fourth inning. Bill O'Brien - Special to the Press

Xavier third baseman C.J. Caprio tags out Branford’s Tyler Criscuolo in the fourth inning. Bill O’Brien – Special to the Press

Xavier sophomore pitcher Miles Michaud earned a win in his first varsity start Tuesday at Branford. Bill O'Brien - Special to the Press

Xavier sophomore pitcher Miles Michaud earned a win in his first varsity start Tuesday at Branford. Bill O’Brien – Special to the Press

BRANFORD >> Xavier sophomore pitcher Miles Michaud earned a win in his first varsity start and senior Will Garrity went 3-for-4, including a key RBI single in a five-run fifth inning, as the Falcons topped Branford, 6-1, Tuesday afternoon at the James MacVeigh Sports Complex.

Xavier, which bounced back from an extra-inning loss against Fairfield Prep the day before, improved to 4-2.

“I was pleased,” said Falcons coach Rich Magner. “We made a couple of nice plays in the field. Yesterday, we made some mistakes. We had some chances to win it and this one we wanted to nail one down. So we got one today and we’ll figure out what we’re going to do tomorrow.”

After a 2-0 start, Branford has dropped four straight.

“We beat ourselves,” said Hornets coach Eddie Bethke, a Branford alum now in his second season at the helm. “When you run into outs it’s tough but when we’re not fielding our positions and not hitting our cutoffs and giving free bases on walks, it’s tough to come back against a good hitting team like Xavier was.”

The Hornets (2-4) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Tyler Criscuolo drew a lead-off walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Ahern and scored on Joe Martone’s RBI single.

Branford had chances to extend their lead in the third and fourth innings but the Hornets ran into a couple of outs at third base, including one where Criscuolo tried to stretch a long double into a triple.

But the play that epitomized what kind of day it was for the Hornets came in the bottom of the sixth.

Trailing 5-1 with the bases loaded and two outs, Jason Vitale tried to score on a wild pitch but Xavier catcher Eli Camner quickly recovered the ball and tossed it to reliever Nick Rascati, who put the tag on Vitale to end the inning.

“That changes the complexion of the game,” said Bethke.

Hornets starter Justin Reyes had blanked the Falcons through the first four innings before Xavier exploded for five runs in the fifth. Camner started things with a bunt single and after Xavier took advantage of a throwing error, Laurence Hill tied it with a sacrifice fly.

Garrity then ripped an RBI single to right, Alex Pia also had an RBI single and Nick Roy delivered a two-out, bases loaded single that gave the Falcons a 5-1 lead.

Andre Marchesseault added an RBI single for Xavier in the seventh.

“A few things didn’t go our way and we folded,” said Bethke. “A better team came and hit the ball and did their job. Top to bottom there is never an easy one in the SCC. You’re going to have those games where you give a team 3 or 4 runs and it’s going to be tough to come back from.”

Michaud, a righthander who had pitched just one inning of relief before making his first career start, went five and two-third innings and scattered four hits. He also walked four and struck out one.

“He did a great job,” said Magner. “I mean, if he blows up we’re going to lose this thing. His control is generally a little better than that. He’s probably disappointed he walked four guys but he did a nice job. He had composure.”

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