By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Consecutive 2-out first inning singles by Mike Kochiss, Charles Mader, and Andy Salveson staked Fairfield Ludlowe to a quick 1-0 lead over Amity in Friday’s CIAC Class LL second round state tournament contest at Janenda Field in Woodbridge. After the Spartans finally retired the Falcons in the top of the first, they came to bat and Ludlowe’s early lead lasted exactly 1 out and 4 batters.
Keith Klebart swatted Pat Gutierrez’s first pitch past third base and down the left field line for a single. Jake Russo followed with a base hit up the middle. One out later, Mike Concato’s singled loaded the bases. Sebastian DeMauro’s fly ball to center field drove home Klebart and erased the Falcon lead. Justin Ashworth followed by ripping a 2-run double into the left center field gap to stake Spartan senior right-hander Sam Nepiarsky to a 3-1 lead.
Scoring in every inning except the sixth, Amity (now 18-4) went on to crush Ludlowe 10-1 and advance to today’s quarter-finals contest at 3rd seeded Greenwich, starting at 3:30 p.m.
Even though Nepiarsky (now 8-0) was scuffed up for 3 hits and a run in the top of the first inning, Amity Coach Sal Coppola insisted that he was not concerned.
He said, “I’ll take the first inning and the 3-1 lead. I made a couple of bone-headed pitch calls that hurt us. I called for 2 change-ups. Looking back, I should not have done that. Starting in the second inning, I had Sam throw mostly fast balls. He had tremendous location today. He kept his pitches in on the hands of the Ludlowe batters, which caused them to keep hitting short pop-ups.”
Gutierrez lasted only 4 batters into the second inning. After picking up 2 quick outs, Gutierrez served up back-to-back base hits to Klebart and Russo and was replaced by Peter Cross. He fared no better as Anthony Capiezzelo and Concato greeted him with consecutive RBI base hits that extended Amity’s lead to 5-1.
Ludlowe’s last hope to battle back came in the top of the third inning. Tom Howell led off with a base hit and raced around to third on Victor D’Asienzo’s single. When Howell swiped second base, the Falcons had 2 runners in scoring position with no one out. Falcon dreams of a big come-back inning quickly evaporated as Nepiarsky found Howell wandering too far down the third base line and picked him off. He then retired the next 2 Ludlowe batters, leaving D’Asienzo stranded at second base.
Cross dug the Falcons into a deeper hole in the bottom of the same inning as he handed out free passes to Chris Cimino and Josh Sabatinsky. At that point, Ludlowe Coach Keith O‘Rourke yanked Cross and brought Steve Zadravic out of the bull pen. After Chris Katz walked, Klebart banged his third hit of the game. His 2-run single past third base drove in Cimino and Sabatinsky to make it 7-1. In the fourth inning, Amity added 2 more scores on run-scoring doubles by Katz and Ashworth.
The winners rang up their final tally in the bottom of the fifth when Russo and Capiezzelo again stroked base hits. Zadravic uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position and Sebastian DeMauro’s sacrifice fly enabled Russo to trot home.
“Our guys really came to hit today and their bats were smoking,” Coppola said. “Even out outs were well hit. On top of that we played great defense too.”
Led by Klebart and Russo, who had 3 singles apiece, the Spartans recorded 13 hits. Klebart also scored twice, stole a base, and drove in 2 runs. Russo added three runs and an RBI. Capiezzelo chipped in with a pair of singles and an RBI. Concato posted 2 base hits, an RBI, and also scored a run. DeMauro had a base hit, a run, and 2 RBI. Ashworth hammed a pair of 2-baggers and drove in 3 runs. Sabatinsky singled and scored twice.
In recording his eighth consecutive win, the UConn-bound Nepiarsky allowed the 1 first inning tally and served up 5 hits (3 in the first inning). He also walked 1 Falcon, struck out 1, and hit a batter.
The 11th ranked Falcons ended their season with a 15-9 record.
Note: Brodsky filed this story on Saturday. The Spartans went on to win another game on Saturday, further advancing in the tournament. Mike Concato pitched a no-hitter in that game.