Prep edged out by Amity in semifinals

Trying to either slow down or stop an offensive lineup as good as the one the Amity High baseball team possesses is, without out question, no easy task.
That was the mission, however, faced by the 10th-seeded Fairfield Prep team going into last night’s night’s Class LL semifinal round game against the sixth-seeded Spartans played at Bristol’s Muzzy Field.
The Jesuits (18-7) entered the contest, one in which they were looking to make the state finals in baseball for the first time since 1985, having already beaten Amity 1-0 earlier in the year when senior pitcher David Gerics pitched a shut out.
And, for five innings in a game that started in daylight and was finishing under the lights, Prep kept the Spartans off the scoreboard even though the opposition had put lead-off runners on base and had advanced them to third in three of those frames.
Doing the work for the Jesuits was sophomore pitcher Kevin Stone, a tall right-hander with good speed and the ability to change speeds.
That scoreless streak, which reached 12 innings, however, came to an abrupt end as the Spartans rallied in the sixth to score three runs and take home a 3-2 victory to earn a trip back to the title game for the first time since 2007.
Amity will meet Southington, a 4-2 victor over Trumbull, in the final scheduled for Saturday at Middletown’s Palmer Field.
“I don’t think there were too many people around who thought we’d be here tonight,” said Prep coach Rudy Mauritz, about his team, which went about beating Simsbury, 8-4; No. 7 Ridgefield, 6-5 in eight innings, and upsetting the second seed Bristol Central 6-2.
“There were people who believed that this was some kind of Magical Mystery tour. It wasn’t. This team earned everything it got.”
After singles by Jake Russo and Anthony Capozziello and a daring double steal, the Spartans’ Sebastian DiMauro delivered the first big blow, a two-run producing double to deep right-center.
Justin Ashworth provided the go-ahead run when he drove in DiMauro with a single to left.
Having already faced five batters and getting one out, Stone was lifted by Mauritz and Alex Pinkus came in. He retired the first two batters he faced.
Asked about leaving Stone (5-2) in, Mauritz said, “He was getting outs up until that inning, and he was keeping the ball over the plate (Stone never walked a batter while throwing 80 pitches).”
Amity coach Sal Coppola kept wondering when he team would come through.
“I was dreading that I would have to say we came up here and didn’t get a clutch hit,” said Coppola, whose team improved to 21-4.
“We ended up getting them when they counted the most. DiMauro and Ashworth have been hitting the ball well. It’s amazing how it can get turned around like that. Isn’t it?”
In addition to pitching five, very good innings, Stone had two hits and drove in a run when Prep scored twice in the third.
The Jesuits got four of their seven hits in the inning off of Amity’s starting and winning pitcher, Sam Nepiarsky (9-0).
Jake Berry opened with a single and was moved to second on Dean Lockery’s sacrifice.
Sophomore Joe Ganim followed with a single to right, which sent Berry to third. When Chris Collins hit a slow grounder to third, Berry attempted to score, but Amity’s Keith Klebart threw him out.
Ganim went to second and eventually scored on Shawn Blake’s single. Collins came around to score on Stone’s RBI hit.
Behind 3-2 going into the seventh, Prep had to face Amity’s top pitcher, Mike Concato (9-2) who had thrown a no-hitter on Saturday in his team’s win over Greenwich.
Concato, heading for Dartmouth in the fall, walked the first two batters he faced (Kenny Collins and Berry).
He settled in after that, striking out Lockery looking, getting Ganim on a ground out to first as the runners moved up a base.
Chris Collins struck out swinging, but Amity catcher Chris Cimmino dropped the ball. He recovered in time, however, to throw Collins out at first, ending the game.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to lift Sam (80 pitches through six innings) and go with Mike,” Coppola said. “But Mike is Mike. After he walked those two batters, he settled down.”
Mauritz had no regrets about his team’s season.
“We won 18 games overall and it was a great opportunity for me to coach these kids this year,” he said.
“This team simply got better and better as the season went along and we ended up here. These kids need to be proud of their efforts. I certainly am.”

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