As they illustrated Sunday when they faced an extra inning-two run deficit against Fairfield in the second round of the state tournament, the Greenwich Cannons Senior American Legion team has a penchant for staging dramatic comeback victories.
The Cannons didn’t hold a lead in the game until Justin Zych grounded a single between third base and shortstop – a hit giving host Greenwich the win in walk-off style.
Zych’s single gave Greenwich a 5-4 come-from-behind nine-inning victory over Fairfield in the second round of the Southern Division bracket of American Legion U19 State Tournament.
With the win, the Cannons are now 2-0 in four-team POD E of the Southern Division bracket. They began action in the tournament by rolling to a 13-0 triumph over Madison in the first round. Greenwich hosts either Hamden or Fairfield in the Southern Division bracket final on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Julian Curtiss School. One victory would advance Greenwich into the double-elimination Super Regionals, which is held at Palmer Field in Middletown.
Either Fairfield or Hamden will have to defeat Greenwich twice on Wednesday to move on to the Super Regionals, while the Cannons need just one win, since they are the only team that’s 2-0 in POD E of the Southern Division bracket.
Greenwich faced deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2 on their way to earning their 15th win of the season and advancing to the next round.
“They got the lead in the top of the seventh and we were fortunate to get that rally in the seventh,” Cannons coach Mike Abate said. “They really showed me the type of team that we have. To battle back and score three in extra innings is pretty special.”
Trailing 4-2 after Fairfield scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Cannons quickly battled back. Zack Alza began the bottom of the ninth inning off Fairfield pitcher Griffin Dodder with an infield single, then on the play he advanced to second on a wild throw. Andrew Walko followed by reaching base on an infield single to deep shortstop. Then outfielder Tyler Cusimano stepped to the plate and hit an RBI single to right field, bringing Greenwich to within 4-3.
Riley Redahan, who started the game on the mound for the Cannons, stepped to the plate and executed a sacrifice bunt, advancing the baserunners to second and third.
With runners on second and third and one out, Zych hit a sharp ground ball that went through the hole between shortstop and third base, scoring two runs and giving the Cannons the walk-off win.
“I had a lot of confidence,” Zych said of the situation. “The infield was in, so I could put the ball hard in play. It was an off-speed pitch and I was able to hit a hard ground ball through the left side. It was an exciting win. We never stopped fighting. To be down two in extra innings isn’t easy, but we were able to fight back, so it was definitely an exciting finish.”
Zych also pitched three innings, allowing two runs, to earn the win. Redahan pitched six effective innings, yielding one run in the first inning and a run in the second.
“Riley threw strikes, did a great job and we made great plays, that’s why we were able to hold them to two runs through seven,” said Zych, a 2022 Greenwich High School graduate, who earned All-FCIAC First Team Baseball honors and was an FCIAC Exemplary Scholar-Athlete recipient for the spring season.
Fairfield, which posted a 2-1 triumph against Hamden in the tournament’s first round, scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning on sacrifice flys by John Corcoran and Charles Mulhall.
Matthew Vivona and began the ninth inning with a double and Swanson followed with a single, setting up the visitors’ two-run rally.
The Cannons scored a run in the first inning off Fairfield right-handed ace Edmund Hogan, behind hits from Zych and catcher Felipe Echeto and a walk by Redahan. In the fifth inning, Greenwich knotted the score at 2-2 when Alza doubled and scored on a single to center field by Cusimano. Redahan, a rising Brunswick School senior, mixed his pitched well while limiting Fairfield to a pair of runs.
“My mindset was to pound strikes, get ahead in the count,” Redahan said. “The first five or six batters of the game, they hit balls nicely. I made a few mistakes and they pounced on them, so you have to give them credit for that. But besides that, I thought I dealt very well. Only two runs through six innings – I’m proud of that.”
“He’s not overpowering, but when he hits his spots he’s a hard pitcher to barrel up,” Abate said of Redahan. “He did a great job for us and he kept us in the game when we were facing their ace. That’s one of the better pitchers in the state.”
Cusimano had two hits, as did Echeto in the win.
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