FAIRFIELD — Throughout the week Brett Lauterbach kept an eye on Friday’s forecast, which called for rain. The Fairfield Warde junior remained optimistic the advance radar would be wrong and his team’s game against rival Fairfield Ludlowe would go on as scheduled.
Rain or shine, Lauterbach never expected his afternoon to unfold the way it did.
Lauterbach threw a complete game, three-hit shutout lifting Warde to a 8-0 upset over Ludlowe, the No. 5 ranked team in the GameTimeCT Poll. The victory also clinched a spot in the Class LL tournament for the Mustangs (8-10).
“I looked at it all week,” Lauterbach said. “I wanted it to be a nice day. It turned out to be a beautiful day.”
Lauterbach didn’t begin starting for the Mustangs until midway through the season. The right-hander used his fastball and curveball to hold the Falcons (15-3) — who’d beaten Westhill and Staples by a combined 28-4 scoreline earlier in the week — in check.
Although he walked five and hit a batter, Warde turned four double plays behind Lauterbach to limit any potential damage.
“We haven’t played a complete game consistently all season,” Warde coach Brett Conner said. “We’ve been fighting ourselves. Our record doesn’t indicate how we are as a team. We can hang with anybody. It’s a matter of throwing strikes, like Brett did today, playing defense, like we did today, and coming out and being aggressive with the bats.”
The Mustangs jumped on Falcons starter Matt Micinilio immediately. Ben Steele led off with a sharp single on the game’s first pitch. Sam Vincent turned the next pitch into an RBI double and the Mustangs led 3-0 after one.
“Tip the cap to them,” Ludlowe coach Mike Francese said. “They hit the crap out of the ball. Their pitcher pitched an outstanding game.”
Warde increased its lead to 8-0 thanks to a five-run second. Austin Stewart delivered the big blow — a two-run double — and finished with three RBIs along with a stolen base. Christian Hardiman and Matt Raab each had RBI singles in the second. Anthony Espinoza added a sac-fly.
From there Lauterbach took care of the rest.
“I knew he was capable,” Conner said. “He throws strikes. He pounds the zone. He commands his pitches. He’s got a great mentality on the mound. I definitely didn’t hesitate to give him the ball.”
Three Ludlowe relievers — Connor O’Neill, Liam Rosengren and Ryan Lilly — held Warde in check after the early-inning outburst, but the Falcons were unable to muster any offense. The Falcons had entered Friday with 118 runs in their previous 17 games.
The win over their rivals capped a busy week for the Mustangs that saw them split four games.
“This game is a different element,” Conner said. “There’s a lot of pride in this game. It’s great for the town. These kids live for this moment, live for this game.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brett Lauterbach, Fairfield Warde. The junior righty tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out four.
Warde’s defense turned four inning-ending double plays behind Lauterbach. Third baseman Ben Steele was involved in three, while shortstop Austin Stewart turned an unassisted double-play to end the third when he caught a liner and beat the Ludlowe runner back to second base. “On defense we were just trying to help Brett. He was pitching amazing.” Steele said.
“It was just like, it didn’t seem real.” — Lauterbach on his shutout against crosstown rival Fairfield Ludlowe.