Pitching and defense have been the Greenwich High School baseball team’s strengths so far this season, but it’s hoping to see a little bit more production offensively, in the future.
Today, the Cardinals met rival Fairfield Warde – a team that it faced three times during the 2021 season, with two of the matchups coming in the postseason.
And Jack Passeck made sure Warde made a significant opening statement in the first matchup this season between the teams.
Passeck pitched five scoreless innings with six strikeouts to lead Fairfield Warde to a decisive 5-0 victory over Greenwich in a midseason FCIAC matchup. The Mustangs raised their record to 9-1 at their halfway point of the season, while the Cardinals’ mark stands at 5-4.
The Warde left-hander allowed only four hits to earn the win for the visitors, who three runs in the second inning and two in the fourth.
“I was just getting ahead of guys,” Passeck said. “The catcher (Roman Digiacomo) did a great job, stealing some strikes for me. The curve ball was working and when I needed it, the fastball was there.”
The 2021 season saw the Cardinals defeat the Mustangs during the regular season to earn the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC Tournament and Warde beat Greenwich in the championship game of the conference tourney. Then came the state tournament, where Greenwich eliminated Warde in the Class LL quarterfinals.
“We saw Passeck last year in the state tournament, he was really good in that game too,” Greenwich coach Adrian Arango said. “He is one of many that they have that are good pitchers. He kept us off balance and threw strikes and we have to figure out in those kinds of games how to get a few runs, get baserunners on and put pressure on the defense.”
Junior right-hander Paddy Galvin pitched a scoreless sixth inning, then senior lefty Zack Broderick struck out two batters in the seventh inning to complete Warde’s standout showing on the mound.
“He came out and commanded the strike zone and pitched to contact,” Warde coach Brett Conner said of Passeck. “Guys made plays, last week we had some defensive blunders, but went to practice and worked on it. It’s good to see guys flying around the field making plays.”
“Our pitching has kept us in every game this year,” Greenwich coach Adrian Arango said. “Against that lineup, you can’t win a game, if you don’t put a run on the board. So the pitching was great, I had no issue with that at all. We made some really good defensive plays. We just couldn’t get it going with the bats.”
The Mustangs, who have a 4-1 record in the FCIAC, tallied three runs against Jones in the second inning. Senior second baseman Jack Andrews began the rally with a single to deep shortstop, junior left fielder William Eustace singled to left field and senior center fielder Jake Balogh was hit by a Jones pitch to load the bases with one out.
With Galvin batting, Jones was charged with a balk, scoring Andrews and giving Warde a 1-0 lead. Arango and the Cardinals did not agree with the balk call, which was called by the second base umpire.
“They said our first pitcher was in the hybrid motion but it was brought up by the other team,” Arango said of the balk. “You call that in a bases-loaded, zero-zero game that gets that a run in, it throws everybody off a little bit. I normally don’t say two words to umpires I’m not an animated guy like that. This was probably the most animated I’ve ever been. But we can’t complain when we score zero runs. We need to do a better job offensively.”
Junior shortstop/leadoff hitter Garrett Larsen delivered one of the clutch hits of the game, singling up the middle to score two more runs and giving the Mustangs a 3-0 second inning advantage.
“Early in the at-bat there was a passed ball, guys moved up from the corners to second and third and I was trying to do the job hitting it up the middle and I got my pitch and hit it back up the middle,” Larsen said.
The victors added two more runs off Jones in the fourth inning. Eustace hit a single to left field, Galvin reached on an infield single and later in the inning, Larsen knocked in another run with a fielder’s choice groundout, making it 4-0. A fifth Warde run scored in the inning on another balk.
“I get a lot of opportunities for RBIS as a leadoff hitter, because the bottom of our lineup is really good,” Larsen said. “We get it done top to bottom and it’s really fun to be a part of.”
Senior third baseman Justin Zych doubled, Jones went 2 for 2 and senior second baseman Robert Rota had a hit for Greenwich, which received two scoreless innings on the mound from junior left-hander Sean Costello. Greenwich hopes to see Warde again this spring.
“We have been on a back and forth with them,” Arango said. “They beat us in the FCIAC final and they wanted a state championship too and we took those dreams away from them. So I told the boys if we’re going to do something special this year it’s probably going to go through them.”
Said Warde Conner of the Mustangs and Cardinals’ growing rivalry: “It’s a mutual respect between us. It’s what makes baseball fun.”
Like Jones, Costello was solid on the mound for the Cardinals.
“I thought I did a pretty good job of getting ahead in the count, focusing on my command and throwing strikes,” Costello said. “Nathan did a really good job, that’s a really good hitting team. Overall, we just didn’t swing the bats too well. continued. “That’s definitely one of our strong suits.”
Greenwich visits Trumbull Wednesday, then hosts New Canaan on Thursday.