DARIEN — Before practice on Tuesday, Darien junior Karson Drake was picking out a shirt to wear.
He grabbed a shirt with Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield’s face on it with his famous quote: “When I woke up this morning, I was feeling pretty dangerous.”
If there is any team in the FCIAC baseball tournament playing dangerous right now, it’s the Darien Blue Wave.
Despite just winning four games in the regular season the 14th seeded Blue Wave has won their first two tournament games of the tournament to reach the FCIAC semifinals.
“It’s kind of our attitude right now,” Drake said. “Everyone is counting us out to lose these games. We just come in every game, as underdogs and are ready to go.”
The Blue Wave upset No. 3 Staples — a team which no-hit them twice this year — and No. 6 Westhill, who beat them in their only meeting.
“We knew we hadn’t played to our potential and we knew teams were going to look over us,” Darien captain Tommy Bock said. “We knew that we had the potential to screw this tournament up and that’s kind of what we have done so far.”
On Wednesday, Darien will play No. 2 Fairfield Warde with a chance to advance to the FCIAC championship game.
“We’re not taking anything for granted, but there is something special going on with these guys,” Darien coach Mike Scott said. “We’re not looking ahead of anyone. We know the task ahead of us with Warde.”
The underdog attitude has helped Darien players loosen up, just have fun and make a statement.
“Let’s go shock the world, we have nothing to lose,” Darien senior Jake Horowitz said. “Let’s go play loose, let’s go play baseball like we were kids.”
The team understands they wouldn’t be in the FCIAC tournament in a normal season, but a year after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 season, the FCIAC allowed every team into the conference tournament.
They have fun stating that they are the first 14-seed to reach the FCIAC semifinals— because the tournament has never had this many teams — and have embraced the fun side of baseball.
The team has listened to the same two songs — ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat World and ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift — after each FCIAC tournament win and has switched up the third song after each win.
“We’re playing like we have nothing to lose,” Bock said. “Which we really don’t.”
Winning games in the FCIAC tournament is not new for the Blue Wave. This is the sixth straight appearance in the FCIAC semifinals for the program. They won titles in 2016 and 2018.
Darien just never got into a groove this year.
Two of its four wins came against the two Bridgeport high schools that combined for one win. One came against Stamford and another came against the top seed in the FCIAC tournament, Greenwich, which had most of its team in quarantine at the time.
Scott said that he told his team all year that when they clicked, they would be fun to watch.
When Horowitz led off the first-round game against Staples with a base hit, the first hit Darien got against Staples this season, it clicked.
He said he let out a sigh of relief and the team got going.
“The weight was lifted off of our shoulders,” Scott said. “Karson Drake comes up with a huge home run.
Up until Tuesday morning, Scott and the coaches were sitting and watching the Class LL rankings to see if they would clinch a spot in the state tournament.
With a South Windsor loss on Monday to East Catholic, the Blue Wave moved ahead of the Bobcats into the final spot in Class LL.
Wilbur Cross is ahead of Darien and the Governors have three games left on their schedule. A loss or two by the Governors can allow Darien to move up.
The rankings aren’t official until later this week, but the Blue Wave is looking to continue riding their streak.
“Being hot, playing with some confidence, it’s definitely helpful when you’re playing one of the best teams,” Drake said.