Above, Sportzedge.com highlight video of Amity’s 1-0 SCC quarterfinal win over No. 2 Notre Dame-WH
Sebastian DiMauro and his Amity baseball team did not start the season how they would have liked. Three straight losses to open the campaign had some wondering what was in store for the Spartans this spring.
Turns out some things never change.
Rebounding from the slow start to qualify for both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments, the Spartans entered the league tournament as a team no one wanted to face.
DiMauro and his team showed why Tuesday afternoon in West Haven as No. 7 Amity scored once in the seventh inning to upset No. 2 Notre Dame 1-0 at Quigley Stadium in the quarterfinals of the SCC tournament.
With the win, the Spartans return to a familiar spot, heading to Yale Field Thursday night to face No. 3 Jonathan Law in the semifinals at 7 p.m.
In a pitcher’s duel between Amity’s Nick Fusco and Notre Dame’s John Amendola, the Spartans did not capitalize on their opportunities until the seventh inning. After both pitchers matched zeroes for six innings, Amity and DiMauro came through in the seventh.
“It was big,” Amity coach Sal Coppola said of the seventh inning. “It was a little demoralizing leaving men on base. We thought a hit here or there and it could have been 3-0. There was a lot of energy on the team. We were facing a great pitcher. The kid is really tough to hit.”
With runners on second and third and two outs, DiMauro’s single to left scored the only run the Spartans needed as DiMauro finished the Green Knights in the bottom of the inning.
“He has been unbelievable,” Coppola said of DiMauro. “It was his 13th game and he has five saves and zero blown saves. Every save he has for us has not been a joke save. It is complete guts by him.
“He has been such a valuable player for us. He has close to 20 stolen bases, he has a cannon in the outfield and he can hit and pitch.”
Trailing 1-0, Notre Dame quickly rallied in the bottom of the seventh as Andrew Natale walked and Zack Balabon was hit by a pitch to put the winning runs on base with no one out. After Lou DeGennaro sacrificed both runners into scoring position, DiMauro crushed Notre Dame’s hopes and sent the Spartans to the semifinals.
The Amity captain got Zach Ardito on a short fly ball to right for the second out, then struck out Chris Minore looking on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
Amity, which shut out Notre Dame earlier in the season, but fell at Quigley Stadium less than a week ago, had its opportunities against Amendola.
In the first inning, Jake Russo singled and Anthony Capozziello reached on an error with one out, but Amendola got Chris Winkel to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Kyle Mattei led off the second with a single and Amendola issued a walk one batter later, but the Notre Dame ace retired the next three batters, including Josh Sabitsky with two runners in scoring position, to end the threat.
DiMauro singled to lead off the third, but was stranded at third in the inning and the Spartans stranded another runner in scoring position in the fourth.
With the outs dwindling away, it looked like Amity’s inability to score would hurt as another opportunity went by the boards in the sixth when Capozziello reached on an error with one out and moved to second on Winkel’s sacrifice.
After Mattei was intentionally walked, Amendola got the final out of the inning to keep the game scoreless.
“I thought both pitchers pitched well,” Coppola said.
Notre Dame managed only four hits off Fusco, who also struck out seven and walked just one.
“I thought one of the keys was he threw inside all game,” Coppola said of Fusco. “He located his fastball in and out. He had it zipping in at the knees on the inside corner.”
Evan Lumpinski singled with two outs in the first, but was left stranded. The Green Knights then had their best scoring opportunity prior to the seventh inning when Mike Corso and Natale each singled with two outs in the fourth inning.
Fusco had an answer despite a loud response from the Green Knights’ Balabon, who hit a line drive to first to end the inning.
Drew Arciuolo led off the sixth with a single and moved to second on Dylan Reynolds’ sacrifice, but Fusco got Lumpinski on a fly ball to left and Corso on a grounder to short to keep the game scoreless.
Amendola took the loss for Notre Dame, throwing 88 pitches — 61 for strikes. He started 21 of the 29 batters he faced with strikes.
DiMauro and Mattei each had a pair of hits for the Spartans, while Lumpinski, Corso, Natale and Arciuolo mustered the only hits of the game for the Green Knights, who now await the state playoffs beginning Monday.
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