STAMFORD — Stamford’s Grant Purpura wasn’t sure if he would be needed to pitch against North Haven Thursday, but he was ready when his time came.
Stamford only needed to beat North Haven once to win Pod G in the Southern Division Sectional of the Senior American Legion State Tournament while North Haven would need to beat Stamford twice.
Stamford held Purpura back in Game 1, hoping to save its ace for the Super Regionals, but North Haven’s 7-1 win in the opener squelched those plans.
Purpura was not going to let North Haven win two, striking out 11 batters while going the distance for the 3-1 Stamford victory.
“I felt a little more ramped up starting this game. I thought I was throwing a little bit harder,” Purpura said. “I think I had everything working today. I just made one mistake to (David Christoforo) who is a heck of a player. I have never seen anything like that kid, especially with a wood bat. After his hit, I was able to settle back in.”
Stamford advances to the Southern Super Regional in Meriden beginning Saturday.
They will be joined in the Super Regional by Hamden, Cheshire and the winner of Thursday night’s game between Trumbull and Naugatuck.
As he did in Game 1, Christoforo got North Haven on the board first with a solo home run in the second inning.
It was the big lefty’s third home run in three games at Cubeta Stadium, all to right field and all longer than the one before it.
Purpura was able to get Christoforo, a rising North Haven High senior, to fly out in the fourth and held him to just a single in the sixth.
Stamford answered in the third, scratching out a run aided by two North Haven errors.
Stamford took the lead in top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Matt Wirz, scoring Reid Gesualdi.
Post 3 added a run in the sixth when Wirz came home from third on a wild pitch after reaching base on an infield error.
The accumulation of errors, walks and wild pitches doomed North Haven in Game 2.
“I think we walked seven, three hit batters, four errors and the walks and errors extended two innings in which they pushed one across. Otherwise, we are going to extras,” North Haven coach Tim Binkowski said. “That is tough to do against a top-ranked team and try to come out on top. In a nutshell.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Grant Purpura, Stamford. The Drew University righty was on point all afternoon with the exception of one misplaced fastball to Christoforo. He only allowed two other runners to reach second base.
“Grant is our ace, our leader and a 19-year old college pitcher. We had 100% faith in Grant going in Game 2,” Stamford coach Kevin Murray said. “Tip my cap to North Haven, that is a good club. We took advantage of a couple of errors and played a little small ball, scoring on a sac fly and wild pitch. We have to play better in the field and hit a little more because our next pod is going to be even tougher.”
NORTH HAVEN 7, STAMFORD 1: In Game 1, the tone was set right away with North Haven’s David Christoforo launching a three-run home run to right in the top of the first.
Zack Pincince and Kevin Lucey came in to score on the homer.
From there, it was all North Haven pitcher Ryan Sullivan, who went the distance, striking out six for the win.
North Haven tacked on two more in the third.
They got one in the fifth on a RBI-single by Mason Balmer and one more in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Sullivan.
Stamford scratched out its lone run in the bottom of the seventh.