BRISTOL >> Holy Cross, a one-loss team that rolled through the first three rounds of the Class S State Baseball Tournament with a 35-1 edge over opponents, found a way to beat No. 5 Housatonic 3-1 in the semifinal round Wednesday afternoon at Muzzy Field in spite of being out-hit 7-0.
If the Crusaders win it all this weekend, it’s likely to be at least as due to their determination as it is to all their talent.
The Mountaineers scored in the first inning on a leadoff hit by Scott Dignacco (2-for-4, run), a walk, a wild pitch and an error. They clung to the lead for three innings on no-hit pitching by Dignacco, then blew up in the fourth on three walks, an interference call and a two-run Housy error.
With the lead, the no-hitter by Dignacco and sixth-inning reliever Jacob Shpur rolled on through a second-inning Mountaineer chance to put it away. With one out in the inning, Sam Foley, Dantae Maddock and Jack McAuliffe loaded the bases on a wild-pitch strikeout and two singles, dying there on a strikeout and ground-out from Crusader pitcher Fran Phelan (7 innings, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks).
“Pitching with a one-run lead isn’t easy, but we battle. That’s what we do,” said Housatonic Coach Daryl Morhardt, whose team got to the semifinals with a one-run (7-6) win over St. Paul Catholic, the only team with a win over Holy Cross this year.
“Our big thing was really just focusing in every inning, every pitch,” said Dignacco.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Dignacco walked Matt Bonvicini and Tim Zupkus, then seemed to escape with a double-play slow grounder to the mound. Instead, the plate umpire ruled catcher interference on the play, loading the bases.
Dignacco forced in one run on a walk to Mike Keating. An overthrow to the plate on a groundout to first scored Zupkus and Connor Goggin.
“Hits don’t matter as long as you get runs across,” said Phelan.
“With the lead — and with all due respect for Housatonic — I kind of knew it was over,” said Coach Mike Phelan. “He rises to the occasion.”
So did the Crusader defense.
With its one-run lead, Housatonic’s defense did star turns with a double play in the first inning, a great foul ball catch from right fielder Sam Foley and a diving highlight from center fielder Connor Toffey in the second.
Armed with the lead in the fifth, Holy Cross centerfielder Adam Razza grabbed the highlight reel with a diving catch of his own.
Still, the Mountaineers had one more great shot in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Dignacco lined a hit to right center field. Toffey followed with a double down the third base line.
With the tying runs on second and third, the battling Mountaineers had one more big chance.
Right until a fly ball settled into center fielder Razza’s glove for the final out.
“Their pitcher was excellent,” said Coach Morhardt. “We got seven hits, but he scattered them.”
No. 1 Holy Cross 3, No. 5 Housatonic 1
At Muzzy Field, Bristol
Housatonic 100 000 0 – 1 7 1
Holy Cross 000 300 X 3 0 2
WP: Fran Phelan. LP: Scott Dignacco. 2B: H – Connor Toffey.
Records: Housatonic 18-6; Holy Cross 26-1.