NORWALK — The Brien McMahon baseball team has picked a good time to hit its stride.
The Senators won their third straight, and fifth out of seven, on the strength of Frankie Greco’s pitching and Anthony Socci’s hitting following Monday’s key 2-1 FCIAC victory over Warde at Pride Field.
“Everybody on this team has grown and the nice thing is we’re getting better at the right time,” McMahon coach John Cross said. “I’ve seen it for years in this league where teams get hot at the end and they get better and better. We’ve got a young team but they’re playing well and they’re getting on-the-job experience. I couldn’t be happier with these guys and they know it.”
The win kept the FCIAC playoff hopes alive for the Senators (10-8, 7-7 FCIAC) while the Mustangs lost their fourth straight to fall to 9-10 and 7-8.
Greco pitched a two-hitter with four strikeouts, two walks and he hit a batter to improve his personal record to 4-1. Socci, meanwhile, delivered the big blow with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, the only blemish on Warde starter Ryan Donnelly’s line (2 runs on 4 hits, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HBP).
Warde took a 1-0 lead in the third on Christian Hardiman’s RBI hit to right field that plated Matt Raab, who had walked. The Mustangs left the bases loaded in the fifth which turned out to be their final threat of the game.
Despite the loss, Warde coach Brett Conner said he liked the way his players competed.
“It was one good swing out of them and we just didn’t put together enough good at-bats or timely hits,” he said. “You have to tip your cap to Greco. I thought we were aggressive with our at-bats, but we hit the ball right at people.”
Conner was pleased with Donnelly, who had allowed only one hit until sixth. With one out, James Stefanowicz singled to left to bring Socci to the plate. On a 2-1 pitch, Socci blasted the ball to deep left center over the fence near the light tower to account for McMahon’s two runs.
It was Socci’s fifth homer of the season, and he said the key to his recent success at the plate has been his focus.
“I was waiting for that pitch at the right time,” he said. “I knew I had to do a job — which was to at least get on base — I’m just happy it went over. I hit the ball hard and it kept rising.”
Said Cross of Socci’s homer: “That was an absolute missile and got out of here quick. He’s locked in right now and very comfortable at the plate.”
Greco finished off his day by retiring the side in order in the seventh, ending the game by setting down the final seven batters he faced.
Cross said Greco has had some big wins this year, including victories over Staples and Ridgefield, and it seems the bigger the game the better he pitches.
Greco said every game he expects to do well and against Warde he had his sinker and slider working.
“This is an enormous win because we need to win out in order to make the FCIAC playoffs so this game means as much as the rest,” he said. “I totally think we can keep this going. I love this team and this team grinds. I didn’t think we were out of that game for one second.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Frankie Greco, McMahon. The junior right hander pitched a two-hitter with four strikeouts, two walks and he hit a batter to improve his personal record to 4-1.
Anthony Socci, McMahon. The senior catcher and a team captain belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift the Senators to a 2-1 win over Fairfield Warde. Socci finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.
Neither team made an error with the highlights being the play of Warde center fielder Christian Hardiman, who jumped to make a catch near the wall to rob Socci of a hit in the fourth, and McMahon first baseman Chris Ehlers, who had 11 putouts.
“With Anthony coming up and a couple other guys you’re always in the game.” — Cross said of the team’s confidence going into the sixth inning.
McMahon is slated to play at Wilton on Tuesday, weather permitting, while Warde wraps up its regular season at Ridgefield on Wednesday.
McMAHON 2, WARDE 1
WARDE 001 000 0 —1 2 0
BRIEN McMAHON 000 002 x —2 4 0
Records: Warde 9-10, 7-8 FCIAC, McMahon 10-8, 7-7. Batteries: M—Frankie Greco (W, 4-1) and Anthony Socci; W—Ryan Donnelly (L, 1-3) and Anthony Espinoza. HR: M—Socci (5).