MILFORD >> Jonathan Law pitcher Kevin Johnson entered Friday’s quarterfinal contest against Darien with a game plan in place. Given the outside corner from the start, Law’s senior pitcher lived there all game.
Darien never adjusted.
Behind the three-hit pitching of Johnson and three RBIs from Jake Rouse, Law advanced to the Class L semifinals with a 3-0 victory over the Blue Wave Friday afternoon at Law. The second-seeded Eagles, who improved to 21-4, will play No. 14 Masuk, a 5-3 winner over Maloney, in Tuesday’s semifinals at a site and time to be determined.
“I was given that outside corner,” Johnson said after finishing with 10 strikeouts. “I just lived there all day.
The defense made the plays.”
While Johnson was controlling the game on the mound, Rouse was providing all the offense Law needed, driving in all three runs. Rouse’s biggest at-bat came in the second inning with the game scoreless and Law threatening.
After Mack Taylor walked to load the bases with two outs, Rouse lined a clean single to left to score Kurt Holden and Rob Griswold for a 2-0 lead.
“It was really big,” Rouse said of taking an early lead. “It is big to get that early lead and it got our offense started. We have defense, pitching and hitting.”
Rouse helped give Law a 3-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. After Tim Maher walked and Taylor reached on an error to put a pair of runners in scoring position, Rouse lifted a deep sacrifice fly to center to score Maher for a 3-0 lead.
“His at-bats were huge,” Law coach Greg Simler said of Rouse. “He does it from both sides of the plate. He has been having those at-bats all year.”
With five walks in the contest, including three to Craig Miller, Johnson only retired the side in order twice — in the second and seventh innings. He had to work out of a few tight situations.
“I thought he had his best control of the year today,” Simler said of Johnson. “He hit his spots. We had a plan today and he bought into it. It was a nice performance by him.”
Darien (17-7) had a two-out single by Daly Hebert in the first, and a leadoff walk to Mike Maccarone in the third.
Maccarone stole second and went to third on a grounder by Brendan Donohue, but never crossed the plate as Johnson struck out Conor Davey and got Hebert to fly to left to end the inning.
“We just could not catch up to his fastball,” Darien coach Mike Scott said of Johnson. “He worked quick and we were not able to adjust. I am surprised at that because we are typically a fastball hitting team. You have to tip your cap to him.
“They played a good, clean game. They executed better than we did. That was the difference in the game.”
The seventh-seeded Blue Wave got a two-out single by Peter Archey and a walk to Miller in the fourth. After a double steal put two runners in scoring position, Johnson escaped without any damage by striking out Bobby Fitzpatrick.
Darien’s final chance to get on the scoreboard came in the sixth when Archey singled with two outs and stole second. The inning ended when Miller walked but Archey was thrown out trying to steal third.
“This is exciting,” Simler said of advancing to the semifinals. “I see that look in their eyes. I know they have wanted this for a long time. I am proud of them, but they know they still have work to do.”
Law also had opportunities go by the boards against three different Darien pitchers. The Eagles left runners on the corners in the fourth and had a runner on second in the fifth after Rich Dow’s leadoff walk, but could not push across the insurance run until Rouse’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Archey had two of Darien’s three hits. Law managed just two hits, a double by Rouse in the first and his two-run single in the second.
LAW 3, DARIEN 0
Darien 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Law 020 001 X — 3 2 0
Conor Davey, Luke Mangan (4), Brendan Donohue (5) and T.J. Adiletta; Kevin Johnson and Dillon Rocha.
WP: Kevin Johnson. LP: Conor Davey (). 2B: (LAW) Jake Rouse.
Team records: Darien 17-7; Law 21-4.
Comments: Johnson struck out 10
Jake Rouse had both hits and three RBis, two run single and sac fly