Forgive Greenwich’s baseball team if it thought it was playing in another incarnation of the FCIAC tournament instead of the CIAC state tournament.
The Cardinals’ Class LL road to Palmer Field started with Fairfield Warde, then Darien, then Staples… All FCIAC clubs. Had they beaten Staples, it would have meant a trip to Muzzy Field to face another FCIAC team in Norwalk.
A state tournament against all league teams? Would league kingpin John Kuczo be presenting the Cardinals with a league trophy had they successfully navigated this de facto FCIAC tournament?
Ah, well. Chalk it up to the CIAC’s strictly-by-records seeding, not to mention an overwhelming amount of FCIAC Class LL teams. Greenwich didn’t make the official FCIAC tournament, so perhaps they enjoyed this faux version.
Regardless, Greenwich’s run ended in the FCI…er, Class LL quarterfinals.Staples, which traditionally has been one of the league’s best baseball programs in recent years, beat back their pesky rivals 8-5 Friday afternoon at Staples Field thanks to a sophomore pitcher who had barely any varsity experience. (How many of those did we see Friday?)
George Goldstein, who had only pitched against Bridgeport Central was pressed into service in the fifth inning and allowed just two hits and a walk, calming down a game which, to that point, had seen four lead changes in four innings.
Asked about his nerves, Goldstein told The Hour of Norwalk, “Not really, I feel comfortable playing baseball. Just trying to get ground balls, I have a great defense, one of the best in the state, behind me.”
Nate Panzer and Noah Yokoi had three RBIs apiece as Staples battled back from a 3-0 deficit against Greenwich’s sophomore starter Connor Langan. Though Staples could only muster four hits, it took advantage of eight walks — six in the second inning — by Greenwich pitching.
Panzer hit a home run over the “Blue Monster,” the so-colored tarpaulin draped over the high fence in Staples’ short left field. The Wreckers, advance to face Norwalk, which downed Norwich Free Academy, in the semifinals at Muzzy Field.
Staples is playing in its first semifinal since winning the Class L title in 2001 under former coach Brian Ruther.
This is the first semifinal under coach Jack McFarland. Staples’ tournament runs have been ended by FCIAC teams in four consecutive seasons, five out of the last six.
Greenwich 300 200 0 — 5 7 1
Staples 130 310 x — 8 4 1
G — Connor Langan (L), Peter Delepine (2), Alex Loparco (4) and Kevin Woodring; S — Marco Latella (WP), George Goldstein (5, S) and Noah Yokoi. Triples: S — Panzer; Home runs: S — Panzer.
Records: Staples 21-5; Greenwich 13-10