Homers help Ludlowe rally past Wilton
Two pitches. Two pitches Wilton's Lucas Uriarte wishes he could have back. Two pitches good for five of the seven runs that Fairfield Ludlowe scored during its 7-4 victory over the Warriors in the regular-season finale for both baseball teams last Thursday evening at Wilton High School.
The loss was the fourth straight for Wilton (10-10 overall), which did not qualify for the FCIAC playoffs and gets time off before opening the Class LL state tournament next Monday (May 28) against an opponent to be decided.
The first pitch so crucial to the outcome against Ludlowe came in the top of the fifth inning. The Warriors had arduously built a 4-2 lead, and with two quick outs looked to be moving on to another home team at-bat. But a walk to Vince Camera set the stage for Chris Benton's game-tying, two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch from Uriarte.
In the top of the sixth, Uriarte again got two easy outs to open the inning. But he hit Derek Tallman with a pitch and Brian Howell lined a single to right. Camera, the Falcons' designated hitter, didn’t waste any time as he jumped on the first pitch and crushed the ball into the wild blue yonder well over the centerfield fence at the ball park's deepest point, giving Ludlowe a 7-4 lead.
The Wilton offense stirred in the bottom of the sixth when Sam Stazza led off with a single and Uriarte added a two-out base hit. But winning pitcher James Delmiche (4-0), who had relieved starter Connor O’Neill in the fifth, got the final out on a harmless infield groundout.
After Wilton reliever John McMahon held Ludlowe with a one-two-three top of the seventh, Wilton started its final at-bat optimistically with a lead-off single by Cole Judelson. A two-out walk to Ethan Leinberger brought the tying run to the plate, but Benton — who had begun the inning in relief of Delmiche — got a strikeout to end the game.
“I think that ball is still traveling,” Wilton head coach Tim Eagen said about Camera's blast. “They had some big guys who had a lot of power. But we had two outs and in a couple of cases two strikes on batters and you just can’t lose focus in those situations.”
The Warriors jumped on O’Neill early with a two-run first inning. Uriarte opened with a walk and stole second base. Then Kyle Phillips got hit by a pitch and Judelson walked. With one out, a wild pitch brought Uriarte home and left runners in scoring position. Chris Tienken’s hit drove in Phillips.
In the third, Wilton added a run when another pitch plunked Phillips, who stole second and scored on John Walsh’s towering double that came within a foot of clearing the left-field fence for a home run.
After Ludlowe scored twice in the top of the fourth, the Warriors got a run in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 4-2. With two outs, Parker Ward became the third Wilton batter to be hit by a pitch. Ward stole second and raced home on Uriarte’s RBI single to center.
With more than a week off before its first game in the Class LL state tournament, Wilton will get some time to rest and heal.
“We’ve had an up-and-down season, which is what we expected, but when we got to 10-6, our expectations went up a notch,” Eagen said. “We had our chances, though, and I told the team they had every reason to hold their heads up high.”