DARIEN, Conn. Darien's Andrew Enzor had the game-winning hit, the game-saving catch and the wisdom to know that his team's 4-3 victory over New Milford in the winners' bracket final of the 13-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament was a critical one.
"We played them earlier in the year, and we lost to them, 8-2, so we know that they're a good team,'' said Enzor, whose sixth inning single snapped a 2-2 tie and put Darien ahead for good. "We're a much better team than when we played them the first time."
Jake Frasca pitched six strong innings, and Eddie Gozdz got the save despite allowing a run in the seventh. Darien ripped nine hits, including two apiece from Enzor and Frasca. Darien will play in the championship round Thursday in Ridgefield against the winner of Wednesday's losers' bracket final. Darien needs to win one more to clinch the state championship and advance to the New England Regional, which begins next week in Norwalk.
"It's a huge win,'' manager Joe Marzano said. "It gives our pitchers a day off so that they're fresh, and in this hot weather, that's important."
Stephen Barston started the winning rally with a line single to left. New Milford couldn't get Barston at second on Jack O'Neill's sacrifice. Enzor followed with his single, a rocket up the middle that easily scored Barston. Frasca followed one out later with another single to load the bases for Jamie Schofield, whose single scored O'Neill for Darien's fourth run.
Gozdz walked New Milford leadoff batter Danny Gonzalez in the seventh, and the runner eventually scored on a wild pitch. Enzor gloved Billy Butler's rocket to center for the final out. He kept it interesting by nearly overrunning the ball before reaching up to make the catch.
"He hit a couple my way so I was expecting it,'' Enzor said. "It was hit a little harder than I thought."
Enzor doubled in the first and scored on a wild pitch. New Milford tied it in the second and took a 2-1 lead with a run in the fifth. Craig Miller's long RBI double tied it in the bottom of the inning, scoring Tyler Costantino. Darien missed a chance to add more runs when it left the bases loaded.
Frasca, however, controlled the New Milford bats for most of the game. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out two. His best pitching came in the third, when two dropped fly balls helped New Milford threaten. But Darien escaped unscathed.
"That was a real gutty effort,'' Marzano said. "He kept his cool and didn't get rattled. He gave us a big effort."
Darien is now a victory away from the state championship after winning its first District 1 title since 1969 just 10 days ago. "We expect to see New Milford again,'' Marzano said. "They're a good team. We've still got to get the next one."
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