The Brien McMahon baseball team had waited through more than 17 months and a canceled season before being able to get on the diamond for its first game under new coach Steve Buckett on Tuesday.
It’s not a moment Buckett or the Senators will soon forget.
Kevin Pascual hit a grand slam to left-center to cap a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning as Brien McMahon defeated Ridgefield 5-4 at BMHS.
Overcoming a four-run deficit grew from the players talking about setting a winning tone, according to Buckett.
“They want to be put on the map,” Buckett said. “There’s always talk of other bigger, better teams in the FCIAC and very rarely a mention of anybody from Norwalk. They’re confident in each other, it’s a senior-heavy group, and they’re ready to battle and win some games.”
Pascual’s home run came after the senior had struck out in his first two at-bats.
“So he was looking to get his first hit of the season and what better time than with the bases loaded when you’re down a couple of runs?” Buckett said. “He was trying to be selective, their pitcher had walked a few of us, so his approach was be patient and get a good pitch to hit and he put a good swing on it.”
The rally started with Philip Stalzer being hit by a pitch, and Cole Forcelina drawing a walk.
Matt Claps singled in one run to cut the deficit to 4-1 and Pete Meyerson walked to load the bases.
Two batters later, Pascual hammered a 1-1 pitch for his grand slam, clearing the bases and putting the Senators up by a run.
The top of the seventh wasn’t without some drama, as Ridgefield’s Liam Bohrer singled leading off and eventually worked into scoring position. But pitcher Joey Cambareri stranded the runner to secure the win for McMahon.
The Tigers had put up a three-spot in the top of fourth, on a two-run single by Luke Barrientos and a run-scoring base hit by Matthew Bucciero. They tacked on another run in the sixth on an RBI single by Luke D’Antonio.
Only one of the runs scored against the Senators was earned, as a two-out error led to three unearned runs against starter Mike Berkowitz.
Berkowitz allowed four hits, walked three, and struck out four in 32/3 innings. Pascual got the win after allowing one run in 21/3 innings.
“We talked as a team in between the top and the bottom of the sixth,” Buckett said. “And we said ‘guys this is a good test for us. If we’re going to be a good team this year, we should have no problem coming back from a four-run deficit.’”