Patience at the plate and poise on the mound went a long way for the Greenwich baseball team in its game against Fairfield Ludlowe on Wednesday.
Facing an early four-run deficit, the Cardinals gained momentum offensively by drawing several walks. Meanwhile, Greenwich junior pitcher Tommy Healey shook off a rough second inning in which he allowed four runs and held Ludlowe’s strong lineup at bay thereafter.
All of that added up to a spirited 6-5 comeback win for host Greenwich, which upped its record to 2-0. The Cardinals, who trailed 4-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning, scored three runs in both the second and third innings to erase their deficit. After the Falcons struck for four runs in the second inning, Healey settled in and pitched four straight scoreless innings, before he was relieved by senior Matt Chioditti.
“He’s such a competitor and a gamer, when he came in and it was 4-0, I said ‘you have to keep us in this game’ and that’s what he did,” Greenwich first-year coach Adrian Arango said. “He didn’t give up another earned run the rest of the way. I was super proud of his effort and having that mentality to get us through five innings.”
Healey, a right-hander, was confident the Cardinals could stage a comeback if he did his part on the mound.
“We had a tough second inning, but I knew we had to bare down, because we have a lot of hitters on this team, so I knew we could come back,” Healey said. “I knew if I put up a bunch of zeroes after that inning, I knew we would come back and that’s exactly what we did.”
Chioditti, a right-hander, yielded one hit in two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save for the Cardinals. Wednesday’s FCIAC matchup marked Chioditti’s varsity debut.
“To come in and pitch in a big spot like that, I really had to bare down and believe in myself,” Chioditti said. “My teammates believe in me, my coaches believe in me, so it made it easier on me and I just did what I do.”
Perseverance has helped Chioditti earn a spot on the Cards’ varsity roster. He was cut from Greenwich’s junior varsity team as a sophomore and was determined to make the varsity squad this spring.
“Being cut from JV my sophomore year and not having a season last year gave me two years to work hard and prepare for this tryout my senior year,” Chioditti said. “I worked very hard to get to this point in my life, so to come in that spot and deliver really means a lot to me.”
The Falcons (1-1), seized a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Junior catcher Christian Smith led off the inning with a single and junior outfielder Andrew Fortunato followed with a double to the right field fence. Senior outfielder Charlie Mulhall stepped to the plate and drove a triple to deep right field, which scored Smith and Fortunato, giving Ludlowe a 2-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by senior outfielder Mike Innaimo extended Ludlowe’s advantage to 3-0. Senior first baseman Noah Schaper drove in the Falcons’ fourth run of the second inning with a bloop single to right center field.
The bottom of the second was one of the key innings of the game for the Cardinals, who got back into the game by being selective at the plate. Junior Tyler Cusimano and senior Matias Fernandez drew walks from Ludlowe junior right-hander Kyle Carozza to start the inning. Aidan Rosario, a senior, hit a single, then junior second baseman Robert Rota was hit by a Carozza pitch. Junior outfielder Marc Thiebeault walked to force in a run and leadoff hitter/shortstop A.J. Barber also drew bases-loaded walk, trimming Ludlowe’s lead to 4-2. Ryan Perez, a junior outfielder hit sacrifice fly, pulling Greenwich to within 4-3 in the second inning.
“We are a very patient team at the plate,” Arango said. “We’re not swinging at stuff over our head or in the dirt. We have a bunch of hitters in the lineup that are going to be selective and wait for their pitch and that’s benefited us over these first two games.”
With one out in the second inning, junior Leo Randazzo relieved Carozza on the mound.
“When you give teams opportunities like that with walks and some errors it’s tough to come back from that sometimes,” Ludlowe coach Mike Francese said. “Credit to them, their pitcher stuck to it. We had him on the ropes and he stayed in there and their reliever came in and did the job as well, so tip your hat to them.”
Greenwich took the lead for good with a three-run third inning. Healey and Cusimano began the rally with singles and Fernandez reached base on an infield error, which scored Healey and Cusimano to give Greenwich a 5-4 edge. Thiebeault added a run-scoring single in the inning, putting the Cards ahead, 6-4.
Ludlowe closed to within 6-5 on Fortunato’s RBI single in the fifth inning, but the Cardinals held on for the win. Arango was impressed with Healey’s ability to pitch his way through five innings.
“He’s never going to back down from a challenge,” Arango said of Healey. “He threw some ground balls, he threw some fly balls and we made some plays behind him.”
Barber made one of those impressive defensive plays, fielding a ball deep in the hole at short, then throwing out Ludlowe’s runner in the third inning. Greenwich’s winning pitcher gave kudos to junior Vincent Pavonetti, who got the start behind the plate.
“He is is taking command back there, calling pitches and he has been great,” Healey said.
Fortunato also came on to pitch in relief for Ludlowe.
“Some of our pitchers struggled in the preseason, so it was good to see them go out there today and pitch well in relief,” Francese.
Chioditti was certainly on his game in his first relief appearance for the Cardinals. Prior to the season, he also had to recover to an injury to his ribs.
“Coach told me if he (Healey) gets in trouble, you’re coming in, so I was definitely feeling the nerves on the bench,” Chioditti said. “I was up pacing trying to prepare myself. But once I get on the mound I know I am in control, so it made it easier for me to overcome those nerves.”