STAMFORD—You could not ask for more from a championship game.
No. 1 Staples got two hits with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the Wreckers the FCIAC championship 2-1 over No. 2 Ludlowe at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.
It is Staples first title since 2011, though the Wreckers lost in the championship game last season to Darien.
On a 3-2 pitch with two outs, Staples junior right fielder James D’Amico lived every kids’ fantasy, ripping a single up the middle, scoring Kevin Rabacs from second with the winning run and setting off a wild celebration on the diamond.
“You dream about something like that forever. You say that scenario but for it to actually happen is unreal,” D’Amico said. “Our strength of our team is our depth. It is someone new every game. (Rabacs) has been grinding all year and things haven’t been going his way. For that to happen for him, I am so happy for him.”
The bottom of the seventh began with Ludlowe up 1-0.
Andrew Moy singled to center with one out, stealing second and getting to third on a wild pitch.
Rabacs, who started in the semifinal but was relegated to the bench in the championship, came up to pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and Moy on third.
Rabacs lifted a single to right center, scoring Moy and tying the game.
Rabacs then stole second, setting the stage for D’Amico’s heroics.
“Kevin (Rabacs) is a committed football player but he is tough as nails and one of the best athletes at Staples and he was perfect in that spot,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said. “He is a part-time starter who has played for a couple of years here. He was made for that situation. He was ready off the bench.”
Staples had not been able to muster much offense prior to the seventh, picking up just three hits and advancing only two runners as far as second base in the first six innings.
Ludlowe’s Chris Benton pitched 4.2 innings, giving up no runs and striking out three.
He was relieved by Connor O’Neil, who sat down five in-a-row, four by strikeout, prior to Moy’s single.
For the Falcons, it was as brutal of an ending as you can imagine.
“That’s the breaks. They got down to the last out and they battled,” Ludlowe coach Mike Francese said. “A guy comes off the bench to gets a big hit to tie the game and then another guy gets the winning hit. There is nothing I can say to my guys to make them feel better. They played a great game and had a great FCIAC season.”
Ludlowe got going right away, scoring in the top of the first.
Derek Tallman was hit by a pitch leading off the game and scored all the way from first base on a double of the left field fence by Benton with two outs.
That is the only hit Ludlowe would get against Staples starting pitcher Chad Knight until picking up a single in the top of the seventh.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chad Knight, Staples. Knight won game MVP honors, pitching a complete game for the win, striking out five. Knight’s most impressive inning was the seventh were he looked to be out of gas but kept battling. With runners on first and third and two outs, Knight was able to induce a flyball to right field for the last out, keeping his team within one run.
“Chad (Knight) threw a two-hitter against one of the top lineups in the state,” McFarland said. “He was fighting through that last inning. He was getting near the pitch count but he kept grinding. It was big they didn’t get that tack on.”