NEW CANAAN — The football teams at New Canaan and Darien are not the only ones capable of producing memorable contests when the archrivals meet. Today’s baseball game provided a conclusive example.
Griffin Arnone’s RBI single capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to give the Rams an 11-10 win over the Blue Wave at chilly Mead Park. Both teams appear to be certainties to make the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Tournament, but the win keeps the Rams in the chase for the No. 1 seed. They entered the day tied for the best record in the league with Ridgefield and Westhill.
“My teammates did a fantastic job of fighting the entire game,’’ Arnone said after a midfield celebration. “Everybody did their job and we just kept battling.”
The game had a little of everything and the first few innings took an eternity. The key to the game was the stability in relief by New Canaan’s Patrick Metzger, who pitched four no-hit innings to keep the Rams close.
“That was just a great job by Metzger,’’ New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. “He came in and shut them down. He gave us a chance to come back.”
Darien’s Justin Jordan, pitching in relief of Jake Geddes, sailed through the sixth. He found immediate trouble in the seventh when Nate Bozzella singled and Matt Burger doubled. Mike Pelli grounded back sharply to Jordan, who froze Bozzella at third. Thomas Diamond followed with a two-run single to bring the Rams within a run, and Kyle DeMayo followed with a double to put runners on second and third.
Diamond scored the tying run on Lucian Tamburro’s ground out and pinch-hitter Andrew Knight walked. That set the stage for Arnone, who laced an opposite-field single from the left-handed Jordan through the hole to score DeMayo with the winning run.
“I was just looking for something I could hit,’’ Arnone said. “He threw it on the outside corner and I just took it the other way.”
The Rams battled from behind from the outset. Sean O’Malley crushed a three-run homer in the first to stake the Blue Wave to a quick lead. Burger’s grand slam in the bottom of the inning further portrayed the slugfest that was to ensue as the Rams built a 5-3 lead.
The Blue Wave added three more in the second, keyed by Ethan Ehlers’ two-run single, and added four in the third. Casey Brown’s two-run homer capped the inning and staked the Blue Wave to a 10-5 lead.
New Canaan scored a pair in the bottom of the inning — two errors helped the Rams — and pitchers on both sides controlled the game over the next three innings.
Darien (9-7, 8-5 FCIAC) appeared destined to build on its success after beating Staples last week and winning three of four heading into the game. But the defending league champion couldn’t close the door, and now needs to finish strong.
“You want to be playing your best baseball at the end of the season,’’ Darien coach Mike Scott said. “That wasn’t our best baseball. We didn’t get enough outs.”
Geddes recovered from the shaky start to pitch two scoreless innings before giving way to Jordan in the sixth.
“We had confidence that Jason could get the outs we needed,’’ Scott said. “We lost the game because we didn’t put them away when we had the chance.”
New Canaan (12-3, 10-2) jumped out of the gate with an eight-game winning streak, but was just 3-3 in the last six entering Monday’s game. It was a critical win for the Rams; they end the season with a brutal stretch that includes games against other contenders. The Rams visit Staples on Wednesday and host St. Joseph Friday. They wrap up the regular season with games next week at Ridgefield and Westhill.
The Rams possess one of the league’s toughest lineups. They score in bunches — they’ve already reached double figures seven times this spring — and put the ball in play. New Canaan makes every team earn 21 outs, as Darien found out today.
“We’ve got a great group of players,’’ Hoffman said. “We set the table for each guy. Every player on this team contributes something, and now we have Robbie Jones back and I think that gives everyone a little more confidence. We have a tough stretch to end the season. For us to come back and win this one was critical for us.”