Baseball: Late hit sends ND-Fairfield past Immaculate
DANBURY—Notre Dame-Fairfield senior Pete Minore got just under a ball with his first swing of the game Monday afternoon against Immaculate, which led to an easy fly ball and out.
With the game on the line five innings later, the cleanup hitter made perfect contact and delivered a knockout blow for the Lancers.
Minore’s two-run double in the top of the seventh broke a 3-3 tie and completed a late-inning rally for the Lancers, who beat Immaculate 5-3 behind four runs in the final two innings. Minore socked a pitch to right-center with two outs to settle the matchup between SWC contenders.
“Pete’s been hitting very well,” said ND-Fairfield coach Bill Mazzucco. “I knew something was coming and he crushed it. Back at our house that’s long gone.”
The hit capped a back and-forth game that almost had another twist. Lancers freshman Rich Kerstetter allowed two walks to place the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh but struck out two and got a groundout to earn the save.
“He’s made a few starts for us and for a freshman he’s in control of himself,” Mazzucco said. “He pitches well above his age and I knew I could trust him there to throw strikes.”
ND senior Robert Karosy had a pair of stellar plays in the late innings, first connecting on a two-run single that tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth. He then made a leaping catch at third base in the bottom of the inning and fired to first for a double play.
“A couple of bad bounces and baseball plays; in a game like this you have play close to perfect,” Immaculate coach Greg Palanzo said. “Today they were better than us.”
ACES LOCKED IN
Both ND-Fairfield’s Dillon Higgins and Immaculate’s Jimmy Fahey had swing-and-miss stuff Monday. The pair combined for 26 strikeouts in six innings of work — each allowing three runs — before the bullpen settled the game in the seventh.
“It’s fun and the competition makes it more fun,” Higgins said. “The harder you have to work the better it feels to win. … I felt good today; I had my fastball and slider working well today, and mixed in a changeup and knuckleball.”
Fahey (14 strikeouts) struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced and didn’t yield a hit until Higgins had one of his two doubles in the fourth inning. Immaculate struck for three runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run double from Fahey.
The Mustangs have already equaled their win total from last year despite the setback; key games against New Fairfield Wednesday and New Milford Friday will round out the challenging week.
“We’ve had very good pitching top to bottom,” Palanzo said. “We have a lot of younger guys contributing; we’ve had timely hitting and good defense. We’re playing pretty well all around.”
“We can’t get complacent with where we are,” Higgins said. “The last few years we’ve been doing well, we’re one of the best teams in the league and then we (slip); you can’t take any teams in this league for granted, it’s too deep.”
ND-FAIRFIELD 5, IMMACULATE 3
ND-FAIRFIELD000 102 2 — 5 8 2
IMMACULATE000 030 0 — 3 4 1
Records: ND-Fairfield 8-3, Immaculate 9-3. Batteries: ND—Dillon Higgins, Richard Kerstetter and Jacob Rainey. I—Jimmy Fahey, Matthew Brugnatelli and Matt Giorgio. Highlights: ND—Higgins struck out 12 and allowed four hits; also had two doubles at the plate. Pete Minore and Robert Karosy each drove in two runs. I—Fahey struck out 14.