Class M Baseball Quarterfinals: St. Joseph 13, East Catholic 11 Cadets hold off Eagles, advance to semis
TRUMBULL — Any team that plans on knocking St. Joseph out of the Class M baseball tournament better bring its hitting shoes.
St. Joseph held off East Catholic 13-11 Saturday afternoon in the Class M quarterfinals, scoring in double digits for the third consecutive tournament game. The victory moves the No. 12 Cadets into the semifinals for the sixth time in seven years where they’ll face the winner of No. 17 Northwest Catholic/No. 9 Seymour.
“We have confidence as a team,” said St. Joseph junior Jimmy Evans, who drove in three runs. “One through nine we’re smashing the ball. We’re just following up the guy who goes in front of us.”
St. Joseph coach Jim Chaves said his team rediscovered its hitting stroke after falling to Danbury 3-1 in the FCIAC quarterfinals last month. The Cadets have scored 41 runs in the state tournament.
“The offense, I think they knew they cost us a chance to play for an FCIAC championship, so they’ve locked in and refocused and given us a lot of quality at bats,” Chaves said.
St. Joseph needed all the runs it could plate Saturday thanks to a game effort from No. 13 East Catholic, which brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh.
East Catholic (15-8) grabbed a quick lead on Jacob Casey’s two-run homer in the first off Evans. Casey later added a solo shot in the third.
Down two runs early didn’t cause anyone in the St. Joseph (16-8) dugout to panic.
“The majority of the time we don’t feel like two runs is going to be the ball game,” Chaves said. “We had a stretch earlier in the year when we were scoring double digit runs and I feel like we’re kind of on a stretch like that right now.”
St. Joseph answered and took a 3-2 lead in the first on RBI singles by Evans and Charlie Pagliarini off East Catholic starter Anthony Mozzicato. Consecutive two-out RBI doubles by Jack Mathews, Stephen Paolini and Evans put the Cadets up 6-2 after two.
Aaron Kirby’s three-run homer in the fourth pushed the Cadets lead to 12-3.
“We knew they were going to swing it,” Eagles coach Martin Fiori said. “We had all the scouting reports, but you cannot have a game plan against them because they swing it one through nine.”
East Catholic took advantage of an error and scored six runs in the fifth, cutting the St. Joseph lead to 12-9.
A stray sound of thunder prompted a 30-minute delay with two outs in the top of the sixth. Evans came back out after the break and got the final out of the inning.
Evans, a lefty, went six innings and struck out four.
“I trust my offense,” he said.
East Catholic scored twice in the seventh, but Ben Talbot struck out Evan Kastauskas with a runner on base for the final out.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Aaron Kirby, St. Joseph — The junior catcher’s three-run homer to left in the fourth inning gave the Cadets a nine-run cushion. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
During the 30-minute weather delay the two teams staged an impromptu dance-off and also played tic-tac-toe against one another. “We had some fun and stayed loose,” St. Joseph starter Jimmy Evans said.
“It’s fun to play baseball against teams like that. That’s why we do this,” East Catholic coach Martin Fiori on the 13-11 Class M quarterfinal loss to St. Joseph.
ST. JOSEPH 13, EAST CATHOLIC 11
EAST CATHOLIC 201 060 2—11 9 2
ST. JOSEPH 333 310 x—13 11 3
Records: East Catholic 15-8; St. Joseph 16-8
Batteries: EC—Anthony Mozzicato (L), Matt Smith (4), Jake McDowell and Evan Kastaukas; SJ—Jimmy Evans (W), Ben Talbot (7) and Aaron Kirby
Home runs: EC—Jake Casey 2; SJ—Kirby