Maniscalco magnificent; Warde to play for FCIAC title

Fairfield Warde’s Reece Maniscalco had 14 days off to think about his next pitching start after suffering a strain to his bicep. So when Mustangs’ head coach Mark Caron handed the sophomore the ball to face St. Joseph of Trumbull in the FCIAC baseball semifinals at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard on Wednesday night, the right-handed sophomore knew what to do.
“All my stuff was working and I was able to locate my pitches,” Maniscalco said after allowing only one hit and pitching No. 6 Warde to a 4-1 victory over No. 2 St. Joseph and in doing so earning the program its first berth in an FCIAC final. “Our defense was phenomenal and our offense got us out to a lead. I was confident.”
Warde will play No. 5 Trumbull, a 5-4 eight-inning winner over No. 8 Greenwich High in the first game of the twin bill, for the title at 12 p.m. Saturday at Harbor Yard.
Helped by three Cadets errors, the Mustangs scored a run in the first, second, fourth and seventh innings.
Tommy Luckner opened the game with a walk off Cadet pitcher Jake Amoroso and went to third whn Mike Foley’s drive to deep left was pushed back by the wind, resulting in the ball falling in.
Giacomo Brancato’s sacrifice fly gave Warde the lead and the Mustangs tacked on a run in the second.
Anthony Miller, credited by Maniscalco for guiding him through the Cadet lineup from his catcher’s position, singled off Amoroso to open the rally.
Dakota DeJordy’s grounder was misplayed to put two runners aboard, and Zach Weinstein sacrificed them up a base.
Brendan Miner delivered a clutch RBI single to right before St. Joseph escaped the jam.
The Cadets posed their only threat in the bottom of the second.
Mark Hirschbeck garnered the Cadets first and only hit, a single to left field, but Maniscalco with his free and easy delivery struck out two batters around a walk on a 3-2 pitch.
When Maniscalco hit Dave Capela with a pitch it loaded the bases, and a wild pitch with Sean Hurley at the plate scored a run. After a 3-2 walk reloaded the bases, Maniscalco got leadoff hitter Mike Rotondo to hit a stinging liner to Foley in center to retire the side.
“I was around the plate, but I didn’t locate as well as I wanted and they took advantage,” Maniscalco said.
Caron said, “Reece continued to pound the strike zone, especially the outer third. He pitched like a senior, and he’s only a sophomore coming back after 14 days off to take care of a strain.”
Warde stretched its lead to 3-1 in the fourth when Weinstein singled in Chris Sabella, who had opened the inning with a base hit.
In the seventh, Miner reached on an infield single then stole second and scored when Luckner’s swinging bunt forced another Cadet error.

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